IAF's An 32 Tactical Air lifter serves upto 2035
Indian Air force is the largest operator of Soviet designed An 32 Tactical turboprop Air lifter. Deliveries starts from early 1985 to 1991. India operates more than 105 such aircraft as of now. Initially IAF bought nearly 125 units. Where two of them lost in accidents. These air crafts running behind the schedule for last some years. However the Modernization allows the aircraft to keep rolling till 2035. The An 32 is one of the best platform can be used as a STOL aircraft operated from small landing air strip in remote locations. An 32 also performed better in High altitude Leh and hotter Punjab makes one of the best reliable aircraft in IAF inventory.
After expiring the first life term in 2000, IAF asked the government to carryout a Mid life upgrades to the An 32 with new subsystems. However the proposal shelved form more than ten years. In June 2009 a An 32 crashed close to Arunachal due to mechanical issues. Thus wakes up the government about IAF call of Modernization. IAF awarded a Ukrainian Aircraft company Antonov and his partner company Antonov Civil Aviation to carryout the modernization.
The Modernization plans is upgrading first 40 units in Ukraine as five batches and another 65 in India with mechanical support from Ukraine. The first 40 units are completed as five batches. Ukraine will delivered one batch every year starting from 2010. And IAF will start modifying the aircraft after one or two batches delivered from Ukraine.
The Modernization include Engines and Cockpit changes. The An 32 will get new modernized engine named Motor AI 20 DM Sich. The new engine is more reliable compared to it's predecessor. Suits best for High altitude operations and short take off and landing mission. the engine further allows the aircraft to carry some half ton more cargo. This engine further allows engine life to some 22,000 hours. Typically Turbo props engines can runs longer than the Turbo jets.
The Modernization include variety of modern systems in the cockpit. There is no mention of glass cockpit digital systems. However almost all modern upgraded system comes with Multi functional LCD displays in the cockpit. The proposed IL 76 modernization also include the same MFD systems. So it's believed the An 32 too get MFD systems in the cockpit.
Modern systems include digital altimeters and distance measuring equipment's. collision avoidance system. ground proximity warning system, Radar warning receivers, upgraded communication systems. Which include SATCOM systems. and new improved onboard oxygen generation systems. GPS navigation systems also installed in the modernized An 32.
IAF will carryout modernization work of balance 65 An 32 aircraft in Kanpur based No. 1 Base Repair Depot aviation plant. Reports suggested that IAF already carried out flight trail of in house modernized system and completes all other 65 systems within 2017, Two years running behind the original schedule. Overall IAF about to spent $400 millions for the upgrade program. The deal also include two full mission simulators for pilot training.
The An 32 can carry 42 fully armed para troopers for more than 2000 kilometers at the speed of some 450 kilometers per hour. Which is one of the best tactical aircraft with the assisted support of short take off and landing in small air strips too. An 32 can fly upto the height of some 31,000 feet. A nominal range which can evade most short range surface to air missiles and MANPAD's.
From now the IAF's An 32 Cline will be called as An 32 RE. The RE Stands for Re-Equipped. This will allow the IAF to keep the Antonov's for another 20 years or upto 2035.