Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA)
Indo-Russian joint venture to make Il-214 has run into heavy turbulence.Creative Commons

Indian Air Force's (IAF) intended replacement of the ageing Antonov An-32 transport aircraft fleet was the Indo-Russian joint venture to develop Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA). But this may not take off following reports that the project is currently "frozen."

Sergey Velmozhkin, CEO of Ilyushin, has been quoted by TASS news agency as saying: "It has been frozen as a joint Russian-Indian project."

The joint venture company Multi-role Transport Aircraft Ltd was founded in 2009 between Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), but differences between the two cropped up over the usage of the type of the power-plant to be fitted in the new aircraft.

IHS Jane's reported UAC preferred "PD-14M — a modified version of the already in-service Aviadvigtel PS-90A-76 turbofan as fitted to the Il-76 'Candid'," while its Indian counterpart wanted a "completely clean-sheet engine with full authority digital engine control (FADEC)". But UAC argued that FADEC was not part of the initial technical specification.

UAC has finished with the advanced preliminary design stage and is waiting for the Indian side to accept it to move forward.

The MTA is known as Il-214 in Russia and the country might proceed with production without HAL.

The transport aircraft was supposed to be enter service in 2019, and its models were featured prominently at the Aero India shows held in Bengaluru. India planned on purchasing 45 and Russia 100 aircraft, with both of them investing around $300 million into the project.

Meanwhile, IAF was also working to extend the lifespan of the Antonov AN-32 transport aircraft fleet from 25 to 40, The Diplomat reported. It also reported the recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow was not able to break the stalemate over the issue.

Il-214 was expected to carry payload between 5 and 20 tonnes and have a range of 2,500-2,700 km. It was expected to land on half-prepared and dirt runways. The Il-214 aircraft has been compared with the C-130 Hercules and the Embraer KC-390.

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