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India inks deal to upgrade An-32 fleet

India has signed a deal with Ukraine's state foreign trade enterprise SpetsTechnoExport (STE) to upgrade its fleet of Antonov An-32 transports.

The "total technical life extension, overhaul and re-equipment" programme will increase the life of the aircraft from 25 to 40 years, defence minister AK Antony told parliament.

Upgrades are likely to include work on the An-32's engines and avionics, with the programme to cost New Delhi $400 million. Work will begin this year and end in 2017, Antony adds.

The Indian air force has said that it plans to increase the aircraft's AI-20DM engine's time between overhaul from less than 2,000h to 4,000h, and total powerplant life to 20,000h. It also aims to increase the transport's payload and range capability and reduce noise levels in the cockpit.

In 2005, Antonov proposed increasing the An-32's range from 920-1,400km (500-760nm) with a 6,700kg (14,800lb) load by integrating additional fuel tanks and increasing the type's maximum take-off weight from 27,000-28,500kg.

The air force had also been considering an avionics modernisation package from Aviapribor, Elbit Systems, Israel Aircraft Industries or Rockwell Collins, but has not confirmed who has been chosen.

India has about 100 of the 118 An-32s that were delivered from 1984. The type has been in the news since one crashed in June, killing all 12 people on board.

The air force plans to replace its smaller transport aircraft with the medium-role transport aircraft that India is jointly developing with Russia. However, this programme has still not taken off amid disagreements over funding and workshare.

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