Sources told ET that a high powered committee on acquisitions is set to clear a Rs 4,250-crore project to Russia for the upgrade and enhancement of the air force's transport fleet of IL 78 and 76 aircraft. The project will not only increase the service life of the aircraft by up to 20 years but will also give both aircraft enhanced avionics.
More importantly, the upgrade will also involve fitting new engines to six of the IL 78 midair refuelers that will give the aircraft a longer range as well as the capability to carry extra fuel. The Indian fleet is likely to be fitted with new PS 90 engines that can increase the load carrying capability by almost two tonne. The air force has been particularly worried about its midair refuelers with a contract to purchase new generation tankers from Airbus under the Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) project stuck for over two years on pricing issues.
The other Russia-linked project likely to be cleared is for the purchase of 150 BMP 2/2K armoured fighting vehicles for the Indian Army. The project, worth.`950 crore, will be executed in India by the Ordnance Factory Board on license from Russia. Parrikar is set to visit both Moscow and St Petersburg and would, among other things, set the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia in December.