The Russian government has allocated an initial $64 million to part finance a joint project with India to develop a new military transport plane, a defence industry official said on Thursday.
Russia and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on the joint development of a multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) in 2007. The cost of the $600-million project is being equally shared by the two countries.
"The Russian government has signed a directive to launch the Russian-Indian project for the development of the MTA, 2.156 billion rubles ($64 million) have been allocated from the federal budget for this project in 2009," said Viktor Livanov, general director of the Ilyushin Design Bureau.
The transport plane, with a 20-tonne cargo capacity, is expected to go in service with the Russian and Indian air forces in about eight years, the official said.
The Russian participants in the project include the Ilyushin Design Bureau and the Irkut Corporation, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) created in 2006. State-owned aircraft manufacturing company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is representing India in the project.
India is expected to procure 45 MTA planes, while Russia, which needs to replace its outdated fleet of AN-12, AN-26 and AN-32 transport planes, is most likely to commission at least 100 aircraft.