The Indian Defense Ministry on Thursday cleared a proposal to upgrade the country’s fleet of Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes and Il-78 aerial tankers, The Times of India said.
The decision, adopted by the ministry’s Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC), comes shortly before Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar departs on visit to Russia on Friday, the newspaper said.
According to the Times of India, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has 14 IL-76 transport aircraft, three Israeli Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) mounted on IL-76s and six IL-78 mid-air refuellers.
“There are also three IL-76s deployed with the Aviation Research Centre, which are also operated by the IAF,” the paper said.
According to the deal worth of 42.5 billion of rupees ($650 million at current exchange rates), the Indian Ilyushin aircraft would be equipped with new engines and avionics. The Indian side expects this contract would extend the service life of the aircraft for another 20 years.
Russia and India have for decades been close partners in military and technical cooperation. The countries collaborate in science and medicine, as well as infrastructure construction and nuclear energy.
In 2014, the total value of weapons and military hardware delivered by Russia to India reached $4.7 billion, according to Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation estimates.