Airbus A400M Atlas, Lockheed Martin C-130, and Embraer C-390 Millennium are the three contenders for Indian Air Force (IAF)’s latest hunt for a versatile medium-duty transport aircraft.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is currently in the process of procuring Medium Transport Aircrafts (MTA) into its transporter fleet that already ranges from smaller Avro748s and Antonov An-32 to C-130J Super Hercules and super heavy C-17 Globemasters.
To address the emerging, dynamic airlifting needs of the air force and potentially replace the An-32s and even relatively bigger Ilyushin Il-76, the IAF seeks to induct some 40-80 medium-duty transport planes with a payload capacity of 18-27 tonnes.
The air force prefers to have medium-duty transporters that can undertake missions in high-altitude regions and perform landings and takeoffs in Advanced Landing Ground (ALGs) which are short, make-shift landing strips at remote locations.
Further, IAF wants airplanes that can airlift a variety of payloads including battle tanks weighing about 25 tonnes and be deployed for special operations or humanitarian missions.
In this regard, IAF has confirmed that three aircraft companies – Airbus, Lockheed-Martin, and Embraer – have responded to its Request for Information (RFI) for MTA procurement. The air force is now said to be comprehensively studying its technical and operational requirements to zero down its choices.
Airbus A400M ‘Atlas’
This four-engine turboprop is a versatile military transport aircraft designed for both strategic and tactical missions. With its impressive payload capacity and range, the A400M Atlas is capable of transporting heavy equipment, troops, and supplies to remote locations with ease.
The aircraft features a fly-by-wire flight control system, advanced propellers and air-to-air refueling capability, allowing for reliable and efficient operation. It also boasts short takeoff and landing abilities.
- Engine: Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop generating 8,200 kW (11,000 hp) in each
- Max payload: 37 tonnes
- Cargo hold volume: 340 m³
- Max range: 8,900 kms
- Max speed: 0.72 Mach
Lockheed Martin C-130
Already in service with the IAF, the C-130 family remains to be a proven workhorse across the globe since 1950s with over 2,500 airplanes made till date. It’s latest version is the C-130J Super Hercules, also a four engine turboprop, is equipped with digital avionics and a four-tube electronic flight instrument system (EFIS). Further, the transport plane boasts short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities as well.
- Engine: Europrop TP400-D6 turboprop generating 4,591 horse power in each
- Max payload: 26 tonnes
- Max range: 3,890 kms
- Max speed: 0.58 Mach
Embraer C-390 Millennium
Unlike the other two contenders, the C-390 is a twin-engine, jet-powered aircraft that promises high productivity and operation flexibility at low operational costs. As a new-generation aircraft with a rigged design, it is equipped with highly advanced avionics and a spacious cargo hold.
- Engine: IAE V2500 engine registering 31,330 lbf (139.4 kN) thrust during the trials
- Max payload: 26 tonnes
- Max range: 2,815 kms
- Max speed: 0.80 Mach