Airbus Military has started a covert campaign and has intimated that India may be offered an A400 airlifter as a result of the rumours that Embraer is in talks with the Indian Air Force and is offering the C-390 Millennium to strengthen the medium/heavy transport capability (IAF).
Between the IAF’s fleet of Boeing C-17 Globemasters and Lockheed Martin C130J Super Hercules aircraft, Airbus Military and Embraer intend to place their respective A400M and C-390 aircraft. State-owned HAL is also vying for space and is prepared to work on a homegrown design for a tactical airlifter with a payload capacity of 20 to 30 tons.
The ill-fated An-32 upgrade programme and the current shelved upgrade plans for the IL-76 fleet have made India’s absence from the Indo-Russian Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) programme even more noticeable. In addition to replacing the Avro Hawker Siddeley HS748 and older batches of An-32 that are nearing the end of their useful lives, the IAF just purchased the Airbus C-295.
In order to sweeten the contract, Airbus Military and Embraer are also willing to integrate many Indian navigation and communication systems on the aircraft. Both companies are eager to establish local production lines in India. Both aircraft cannot be categorised as being in the same class because the Embraer 390’s payload ranges from 19 to 23 tonnes and the A400’s payload ranges from 20 to 37 tonnes, but both offer the ability to operate from unpaved and short runways, which has been a persistent interest to the IAF to bolster forward bases across the LAC and Eastern border with China.