Bangalore: Domestic and Asian aerospace giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has clarified that the withdrawal of the Russian company, Irkutsk Aviation and Industrial Association as a partner from the $600 million, Indo-Russian Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) joint venture is an internal Russian affair and does not indicate a collapse of the project.
According to M Fakruddin, director, corporate planning and marketing, though Irkutsk will no longer be the nodal agency from the Russian side, the venture was very much alive, and a team from HAL would arrive in Moscow, sometime in April, to sign a $8.5 million deal for starting work on the design of the aircraft.
According to Fakruddin, Rosoboronexport, Russia's state-owned monopoly liaison agency for the export and import of defence related and dual use products, technologies and services has identified the Ilyushin Aviation Complex as the new prime nodal agency in place of Irkutsk.
Fakruddin also said that Irkutsk would still be contributing to the project by collaborating with the new nodal agency, albeit from outside. He said that the replacement of Irkutsk with Ilyushin was part of the reorganisation of the Russian aviation industry, which has resulted in the formation of the United Aircraft Corporation. Irkutsk is now being assigned new roles, he said.
As part of a 2002 deal, India and Russia had agreed to a 50-50 joint venture, with a Russian consortium consisting of Irkutsk, the Ilyushin Aviation Complex and Rosoboronexport contributing 50 per cent of the $600 million in development costs.
The MTA is meant to replace the ageing Antonov (An)-12, An-26/ 32 turboprop transport aircraft which first entered service in the 1970s. While the Indian Air Force plans to acquire 45 of these aircraft, the Russians are committed to acquiring around 100 within the next 12 years.
The MTA is expected to fly in 2013 and be inducted by 2015.
Fakruddin also mentioned that the arrangement of work, as agreed upon between HAL and the Russian companies stood unchanged. While HAL is to design the front fuselage and wings, and contribute in the development of the avionics, the Russian consortium will work on the rear and centre fuselage.
Fakruddin also ruled out the possibility of HAL looking at non-Russian companies for collaboration on the MTA.