The air force has had a long association with Russian transport planes. The earliest transport plane inducted was the Antonov AN 12. This was a non pressurized plane, but it was a solid workhorse and did yeoman service for the IAF particularly in carrying supplies in Ladakh and NEFA. The AN -12 is phased out and we have the AN-32 as replacement. This is a twin-engine plane and is fully pressurized and can take off from a short runaway as well as under prepared and grassy air fields. It can carry 5 tones of freight.
Il-76 the 'Big Daddy'
Air force has also the ‘Big Daddy’ the massive Illusian IL- 76. The jet engine plane can carry 45 tonnes of freight or 350 armed Para troops. This was the plane used to transport the Indian Para troopers to the Maldives and also brought the National Guard to Mumbai in the wake of terror attacks. India and HAL are also developing the Multi Role Transport Aircraft (MTA) with Russian collaboration. The MTA would be a jet aircraft and will have a payload capacity of about 20 tones and a range of about 3000 km. The aircraft will have full digital engine authority control (FADEC) and the latest avionics as well as stealth technology.
also heavily relies on helicopters from Russia. The MI 15, 17, and MI-35 have been inducted into the IAF helicopter squadrons. The pride is the MI-35 battle cruiser that is a most potent threat. It flies at tree top-level and is difficult to detect with radar and also carries guns and missiles. It is the most potent chopper in the Russian inventory and a few are with India. This chopper was used with deadly effect by the Russians when the Chechen Islamic fighters had revolted against the Russians. The USAF is carrying out an evaluation of this ‘mighty bird’ which is more than a match for the Black Hawk.
The Indian connection in the aviation field with Russia is strong. Nearly six decades back they had also gifted an IL 14
to Pandit Nehru for his transportation. This aircraft is now obsolete, but it reinforces the fact that in the field of aviation, more particularly military aviation India and Russia are linked together.
There is however a change now as the IAF has acquired the C130 star lifte
r from the USA. but despite this the Indian Airforce connection with Russia is strong.