A new Russian-Indian military transport plane could make its maiden flight by 2018, the head of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said.
Russia and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on the joint development of a multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) in 2007. The cost of the $600-mln project is being equally shared by the two countries.
"We are at the initial stage of the project. Maybe in 6-8 years we shall have the prototype aircraft flying," Ashok Nayak said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.
The MTA project will be implemented by a Russian-Indian joint venture, co-founded by Russia's arms exporter Rosoboronexport and United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and India's HAL.
An agreement on the formation of the JV is expected to be signed during the current visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to India.
"A green flag has been shown at this point...the work will progress very fast for the formation of the joint venture," Nayak said, adding that all necessary documents had been agreed on by both sides.
Moscow and New Delhi will have an equal share in the development and production of the aircraft. The aircraft is expected to be assembled in both Russia and India.
"Initially we expect to produce about 205 aircraft of which 30% will go on the world market," the HAL chairman said.
The MTA will be most likely developed on the basis of the Il-214 twin-engine military transport aircraft designed by the Ilyushin Design Bureau.
The new aircraft will feature a takeoff weight of around 55 tons, flight range of 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) and a payload of up to 20 tons.
NEW DELHI, March 11 (RIA Novosti)