Aero India: Industry Eyes Indian Transport, AEW, Tanker and Fighter Prospects
The recent Aero India show was a magnet for many international aerospace companies that are chasing various Indian procurements. In the airlift category, Lockheed Martin delivered the first of six C-130Js that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will use especially for the transport of special forces. The manufacturer signed a joint venture with Tata to produce C-130J airframe parts, amid suggestions that the IAF might buy another six Hercules. The IAF chief said that his service required another 10 Boeing C-17s, in addition to the 10 already ordered.
Northrop Grumman showed a model of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. It was reported to be eyeing an IAF request for information for four airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, despite the indigenous AWACS program for which Embraer is due to rollout the first of three EMB-145 AEW aircraft this month and deliver to India in August for system integration.
The IAF requirement for six new tankers has been re-opened; the incumbent Ilyushin Il-78 (seven are already in service) is now in competition with the Airbus Military A330 MRTT.
In the fighter category, the show was preceded on February 4 by the first flight in Russia of an upgraded IAF MiG-29. MiG is modifying six aircraft, and an IAF depot in India is doing another 57. But there was no news of the long-mooted upgrade for the IAFπs Mirage 2000 fleet. Looking further ahead, India and Russia signed the preliminary design agreement for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft on December 21. India is contributing $295 million to the joint project, which is based on the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA development.