Ukrainian state-run Antonov has emerged as the frontrunner for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.’s (HAL) medium military transport aircraft programme.
HAL had received five proposals on its proposal to select a partner to manufacture a 50-80 seater aircraft in India. Out of the five bids, Antonov emerged as a clear winner as it met all the requirements set by HAL, sources told BusinessLine.
The Ukrainian firm, which had signed an agreement with Reliance Defence in April for joint production of their platforms in India, makes aircraft that can play both civil and military roles.
Apart from Antonov, GKN Aerospace, IAI, Ilyushin and ATR had also placed bids for the project. What worked in Antonov’s favour is that compared to all the other entrants, its series of aircraft are of recent design with state-of-the-art aviation systems like fly-by-wire, high-efficiency engines and all-weather operations.
According to estimates, the demand for 50-80 seater aircraft is expected to increase owing to the focus on tier II and III cities under the new Civil Aviation Policy. “HAL intends to leverage this opportunity through a partnering arrangement with an OEM under the Make in India programme,” officials said.
Antonov or AN class of aircraft have been part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for over five decades. The IAF has more than 100 AN-32 aircraft recently upgraded on its inventory.
HAL is also looking at Antonov for additional military functions such as troop carrying and cargo, maritime patrol and reconnaissance, search and rescue operations.