Augmenting its airlift capabilities, the Indian Air Force on Wednesday inducted four upgraded Antonov-32 aircraft, which underwent overhauling and technical life extension programme in Ukraine.
"Four of the first batch of five AN-32s that recently underwent 'Total Technical Life Extension', overhaul and re-equipment at Ukraine were inducted with a new nomenclature AN-32RE into the service," a senior IAF official said.
The upgrades would help in extending the life of the aircraft up to and beyond 2025, Air Officer-in-charge Maintenance Air Marshal Joseph Neri said.
The IAF had decided to upgrade the aircraft in 2005 to overcome maintenance challenges due to ageing and obsolescence and finalised the contract with a Ukrainian firm in 2009, they said.
The special features provided in the AN-32RE include modification in cockpit layout, upgraded avionics equipment, noise and vibration reduction enhancing crew comfort, reliability and maintainability of the aircraft.
Under the upgraded project, the life of the aircraft would be increased 25 to 40 years, and 40 aircraft would be overhauled and re-equipped in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian side will supply 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.
Gp Capt R C Mohile, who flew back the aircraft to India from Ukraine, said the new navigational equipment in it proved extremely useful and made the complex navigation process involved on the international route easy to negotiate.