Future of India's heavy airlift: IAF mulling modernization of IL-76 & future replacement

Tshering22

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Indian Air Force mulling modernization of IL-76 & future replacement

A bit old, but highly relevant. The IAF operates around 19 Il-76 "Gajraj" aircraft and they are nearing the end of their service lives. The top brass is looking at a modernization plan for some of the platforms but the older ones need to be phased out. The IAF had initially planned to make C-17 the bulwark of IAF heavy transporter, but thanks to Boeing's decision to close the production line, there is no chance we can get more, except second-hand, which may not serve the intended purpose.

It is also very unlikely that Boeing would be willing to hand over C-17 to HAL to be manufactured in India. A production line that doesn't churn out 100s of them won't be viable. That leaves IAF with a few options.

1. Kawasaki C-2 from Japan


This beauty is the closest equivalent to the Globemaster III in terms of capabilities. Japan has planned production of 22 aircraft of this type. However, the better part about this model is that the Japanese want to export it since it is a strategic airlifter and not an overtly offensive weapon. The clip above is from the Dubai Air Show held in 2019 where C-2 made its presence as it gave demonstration flights for the spectators. This indicates that IAF has a potent platform at hand, ready to replace the Gajrajs.

The cost of inducting them might be high initially due to the setting up of the entire maintenance, training, and spares. But if India plays its cards well, we could be operating the C-2 in IAF in the coming years.

2. Embraer C-390 Millennium from Brazil


Developed as Brazil's first entry into the strategic airlifter market, The C-390 is developed with a partnership with Portugal. Brazil has been quite open about its interest in cooperating with India as the Brazilian ambassador said last year. Now, this is a much smaller aircraft, along with the C-130J's size. Unfortunately, no news came out after the initial exchange of letters between Embraer and HAL somewhere around the end of last year.

An alternative could be to start a joint project of building a stretched version of this jointly with the Brazilians and have a JV future-proof product.

3. Antonov An-70 from Ukraine


The joint An-70 project between Ukraine & Russia has completely collapsed as Ukraine is making the products on its own. However, if we were to ask them for a significant order, this giant beauty could be made specifically for us and could potentially become a product line in the long term for us. Ukraine needs funds and we need a viable future platform. Antonov aircraft are rugged, sturdy and get the job done. This behemoth is along the lines of the C-17 though it is a turboprop-powered airlifter.



__________

In all the 3 cases the chances of a long-term strategic partnership with India-specific assurances are very high.


Discussion invited!
 

tomthounaojam

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I really do like to see C-2 in our service it is really a BIG aircraft, however, An-70 I doubt cause it is not series production and I doubt it will see mass production, on the other option is the A-400 good aircraft category btw C-17 and C-130 but it is expensive.
 

Anandhu Krishna

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Koreans are apparently developing one. Imagine us having competent decision makers in the military and govt and we join them.
 

Tshering22

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Koreans are apparently developing one. Imagine us having competent decision-makers in the military and govt and we join them.
IAF definitely has a fleet modernization plan since logistics cannot be compromised. One of the main advantages of an aggressive China is that it is forcing the government to modernize at a pace never seen before in India's history. So much so that even the babus in the RMO are unable to stop the modernization since they would face flak and most likely be investigated upon for trying to stall the process.

However, modernizing strategic airlift capabilities needs a few things more than fighter jets when planning:

  1. Availability of the suitable aircraft;
  2. The tactical capability of the jet itself:
    • Payload capacity
    • Endurance & ferry range
    • Adaptability for programs like the ALUAV programs, using modifications to turn cargo planes into bombers, MEDEVAC, STOL capabilities, etc.
  3. Operational issues:
    • Operating costs per hour
    • Mean Time Before Overhaul - hangar queens are unwelcome
    • Operational capability absorption
    • Maintenance knowledge absorption
  4. Political and commercial issues:
    • Supplier reliability - anyone supplying these literally hold you by your testicles
    • Willingness to transfer technology to manufacture no-go spare parts in India
    • Overall strategic relationship with that country
When it comes to South Korea, it is similar to the United States' Boeing C-17 in this case - there is no case available for the IAF to ponder upon. Whereas all other platforms mentioned above are already available in the market and are operational with the forces of their home countries.

IAF currently has four aircraft types in the heavy airlift category:

a) IL-76: 19 units
b) IL-78 MKI refuellers: 6 units
c) C-130J: 12 units
d) C-17s: 11 units

That takes the total to 48 aircraft with varying fleet availability. The first 8-10 Ilyushins are expected to undergo MLU around 2025 for ensuring availability for another 10 years.

That means the IAF has time till the induction of AMCA in 2035 to draw up a detailed replacement plan.
 

asianobserve

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Indian Air Force mulling modernization of IL-76 & future replacement

A bit old, but highly relevant. The IAF operates around 19 Il-76 "Gajraj" aircraft and they are nearing the end of their service lives. The top brass is looking at a modernization plan for some of the platforms but the older ones need to be phased out. The IAF had initially planned to make C-17 the bulwark of IAF heavy transporter, but thanks to Boeing's decision to close the production line, there is no chance we can get more, except second-hand, which may not serve the intended purpose.

It is also very unlikely that Boeing would be willing to hand over C-17 to HAL to be manufactured in India. A production line that doesn't churn out 100s of them won't be viable. That leaves IAF with a few options.

1. Kawasaki C-2 from Japan


This beauty is the closest equivalent to the Globemaster III in terms of capabilities. Japan has planned production of 22 aircraft of this type. However, the better part about this model is that the Japanese want to export it since it is a strategic airlifter and not an overtly offensive weapon. The clip above is from the Dubai Air Show held in 2019 where C-2 made its presence as it gave demonstration flights for the spectators. This indicates that IAF has a potent platform at hand, ready to replace the Gajrajs.

The cost of inducting them might be high initially due to the setting up of the entire maintenance, training, and spares. But if India plays its cards well, we could be operating the C-2 in IAF in the coming years.

2. Embraer C-390 Millennium from Brazil


Developed as Brazil's first entry into the strategic airlifter market, The C-390 is developed with a partnership with Portugal. Brazil has been quite open about its interest in cooperating with India as the Brazilian ambassador said last year. Now, this is a much smaller aircraft, along with the C-130J's size. Unfortunately, no news came out after the initial exchange of letters between Embraer and HAL somewhere around the end of last year.

An alternative could be to start a joint project of building a stretched version of this jointly with the Brazilians and have a JV future-proof product.

3. Antonov An-70 from Ukraine


The joint An-70 project between Ukraine & Russia has completely collapsed as Ukraine is making the products on its own. However, if we were to ask them for a significant order, this giant beauty could be made specifically for us and could potentially become a product line in the long term for us. Ukraine needs funds and we need a viable future platform. Antonov aircraft are rugged, sturdy and get the job done. This behemoth is along the lines of the C-17 though it is a turboprop-powered airlifter.



__________

In all the 3 cases the chances of a long-term strategic partnership with India-specific assurances are very high.


Discussion invited!
Embraer C-390 is in the same class as C-130. So it's a non starter for India since it already operates C-130s.

The contest will be in the higher class between C-2, A400M and AN-70. Between these 3 airlifters, my vote goes to the C-2. I think if India can order for 50 or more then Japan might assemble it in India giving India industrial benefits.

And India has to order in bulk, more than 50, to ensure that it has sufficient numbers for its needs (to free its C-17 for bigger cargos like MBTs in the same way USAF uses its C-5s), on reserve, and for spares in case needed.
 

asianobserve

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And as I already mentioned in previous thread, the C-2 most likely is the cheapest to acquire and operate since it uses a lot of commercial/civilian parts.

Imagine 100 of these beauties...
 

Tshering22

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And as I already mentioned in previous thread, the C-2 most likely is the cheapest to acquire and operate since it uses a lot of commercial/civilian parts.

Imagine 100 of these beauties...
Can you please share a link for the bold part? It would be nice to know which parts are common with which civilian aircraft.

That's more like wishful thought my friend. IAF will at the most buy around 25-30 of these classes of jets. And knowing how expensive Japanese products are, I truly hope they consider it seriously. We have this tendency to gun for Russian/Ukrainian products in this area.

Also, the Japanese really dragged their feet on a potential deal that was going to happen for the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious transport planes that the Navy wanted. They were asking for strange guarantees from us despite the fact that our Navy said that we will use our own electronic communication systems. The deal dragged on for 3 years and then fell apart.

Let's hope that the Kishida-san is more serious about it. Kawasaki should offer domestic assembly for anything over 20 units, as the Japanese themselves have ordered only 22 of these.
 

asianobserve

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Can you please share a link for the bold part? It would be nice to know which parts are common with which civilian aircraft.

That's more like wishful thought my friend. IAF will at the most buy around 25-30 of these classes of jets. And knowing how expensive Japanese products are, I truly hope they consider it seriously. We have this tendency to gun for Russian/Ukrainian products in this area.

Also, the Japanese really dragged their feet on a potential deal that was going to happen for the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious transport planes that the Navy wanted. They were asking for strange guarantees from us despite the fact that our Navy said that we will use our own electronic communication systems. The deal dragged on for 3 years and then fell apart.

Let's hope that the Kishida-san is more serious about it. Kawasaki should offer domestic assembly for anything over 20 units, as the Japanese themselves have ordered only 22 of these.
I could not recall where I read it. But the engine itself is an unmodified B767 engine.

As to cost, in 2018 Japan paid around $180M for C-2.

 

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