Four of the first batch of five AN-32 tactical transport aircraft that recently underwent ‘total technical life extension’ (TTLE), overhaul and re-equipment at Ukraine were inducted into the IAF, albeit with a new nomenclature – AN-32 RE.
Stating IAF has been imbibing and exploiting technological advances and adapting to revolution in military affairs, Air Marshal Joseph Neri, Air Officer-in-charge Maintenance said re-equipped AN-32 RE aircraft will fulfill tactical transport requirements of the IAF up to and beyond 2025.
Air Mshl Neri inducted the first batch of AN-32 RE aircraft at a brief induction and handing over ceremony held at Palam airbase. DG (Aircraft), Air Mshl RK Vashisht, senior MOD and IAF officials, representatives of M/S Spets Techno Export (STE) from Ukraine and aircrew that flew in the aircraft from Kiev was among those present at the ceremony.
AN-32 aircraft, the backbone of transport fleet of IAF, operational since 1984, has flown more than eight lakh hours on various missions. To overcome maintenance challenges due to ageing and obsolescence while still left with airframe hours and number of landings led IAF to conceive mid-life upgrade in 2005, and contract finalized in June 2009.
The project envisages TTLE from existing 25 to 40 years, overhaul and re-equipment of 40 aircraft at designer certified plants in Ukraine of 10 aircraft annually and supply of material and ‘transfer of technology’ (ToT) for upgrade of 64 remaining aircraft at IAF’s No. 1 Base Repair Depot (BRD) at Kanpur. The upgrade at Kiev is expected to be completed by March 2014 and upgrade at 1 BRD by March 2017.
The special features of AN-32 RE include modification in cockpit layout, upgraded avionics equipment, noise and vibration reduction enhancing crew comfort, reliability and maintainability of the aircraft.
Sharing the experience of the aircrew flying the upgraded aircraft fitted from Kiev to India via Ankara, Cairo, Jeddah, Doha and UAE, Gp Capt RC Mohile, one of the Captains of the AN-32 RE and the team leader described that the new navigational equipment proved extremely useful and made the complex navigation process involved on the international route easy to negotiate.