The Indo-Russian Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) project is set to undergo a critical design review sometime in the near future, though both nations are yet to structure the $600 million funding package. Media reports also suggest that the programme may be headed for further problems with the Russian aerospace industry currently caught up in the throes of a restructuring programme, resulting in Moscow's failure to settle on a prime contractor for it's share of the work.
After two years of negotiations, New Delhi and Moscow had signed a bilateral agreement on the MTA project last November through which they agreed to a joint funding and development of the MTA project.
India's share of the funding will be credited to the spending undertaken by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, while most of Russia's state funding will come via a special Indo-Russian fund created to support the development of advanced technologies. This also covers a Indo-Russian joint venture to develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
The money is being diverted from the payments that India makes for all the obsolete and, at times, sub-standard Russian equipment that it purchased during the Cold War period from the erstwhile Soviet Union, the predecessor of the Russian Federation. The Russians are now diverting those payments to joint venture projects, such as the MTA.
As of now, according to reports, NPK Irkut will act as the lead Russian enterprise on the MTA project, working in tandem with Ilyushin, which is developing a Russian Air Force version, the Il-214.
Reports suggest that Irkut's Aviastep design bureau has completed conceptual design work ahead of an Indian assessment of the project early next year. Reports quote Irkut president, Oleg Demchenko, as saying that work on the MTA project has begun in earnest.
According to Russian industry sources, state-funding for the selected prime contractor is likely to become available soon, with Russia considering providing state guarantees in its fiscal year 2008 budget, along with a 15-year credit package. Though the prime contractor is yet to be selected, the choice is likely to be made between Irkut and Ilyushin, with the latter running as the current favourites.
Irkut production plants are currently occupied with the MS-21 and Yak-30 programmes, and may not be able to allot the required resources for the MTA project.