12:00 AM, June 18, 2009
The Ukrainian manufacturer of the AN-32 transport aircraft, Antonov Aeronautical Scientific/Technical Complex , has been awarded a $400 million order to upgrade the entire AN-32 fleet of Indian Air Force (IAF) under an estimated $400 million contract. The Indian media reported that the AN-32s were fast approaching the end of their "total technical life'' of 25 years by this year-end which promoted the Indian MOD to issue one of its largest upgrade contract to date. The AN-32s have had a mixed history in India with most recent of them all being the crash of an IAF An-32 earlier in June 2009 killing all 13 personnel on board. An earlier crash in 1999 had killed 21 people. So far India has seen 14 AN-32 crashes. Under the contract, an estimated 100 AN-32s will get an upgrade and life extension overhaul over a period of five years, with an initial lot being sent to Ukraine and the rest undergoing it at Kanpur depot of HAL. "The project will be executed between 2009 and 2013. It will include life extension of both the engines and airframe, improved avionics suite, communication equipment and landing aids,'' the media reports said quoting an Indian official. The twin-turboprop AN-32s, used to ferry troops and supplies to forward areas, has suffered from poor serviceability, tardy maintenance, delays in overhauls and shortage of spares, resulting in a high AOG (aircraft on ground) percentage.