Reliance Defence, Ukraine’s Antonov in aircraft deal

Mumbai, March 31 (IANS) Reliance Defence on Thursday said it is partnering the Ukraine-based state corporation Antonov for dual version transport aircraft for military, para military and commercial use in India that has a potential market size of Rs.35,000 crore in 15 years.

The agreement was reached between Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani and National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Deputy Secretary Oleg Gladkovskyi on the margins of Defence Expo in Panaji, a company statement said.

Reliance Defence and Ukraine’s Antonov will jointly address various requirements, including 50-80 seat passenger aircraft in basic configuration, and also in all its variants, for transportation, maritime patrol and other military roles.

Antonov, or “An Class” of aircraft, have served the Indian Air Force and Navy for more than five decades. Currently, the IAF has more than 100 An-32 aircraft on its inventory. Having completed its last life cycle, upgrades will now be due for replacements.

“The partnership agreement would provide the benefits of quality and low cost solution for 50-80 seater aircraft through its core competencies,” the company said.

The accord between Reliance Defence and Antonov covers the design of fixed wing military aircraft, configured for use in tactical as well strategic roles. Powered by two turbo-fan engines, the medium lift aircraft can operate on short field runways as also unpaved surfaces.

In the Indian civil aviation market, this medium-category aircraft could effectively plug the gap in regional air transport connectivity to around 350 unused airstrips currently available across the country, as desired in the draft the new aviation policy, the company said.

“India has a requirement of over 200 medium-lift turbo-fan aircraft that is the backbone of all tactical logistic transport support roles as well as route transport roles of the air force, the army and para-military forces.”

The joint venture also envisages design and manufacture of such aircraft in India, with transfer of niche technologies. It will be located at the integrated Aerospace Park at Mihan, Nagpur. The programme, valued at over Rs.35,000 crore, can generate new jobs for 7,000 people.

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