India’s HAL Signs On To Perform IAI Tanker Conversions

Signing ceremony between HAL and IAI.
Credit: HAL

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has made an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries to convert passenger aircraft into tankers under the Israeli company’s multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) program.

A memorandum of understanding sees the work being carried out in India and also covers potential commercial passenger-to-freighter conversions. IAI’s passenger-to-freighter portfolio covers Boeing 767s, Airbus A330s and most recently 777-300ERs. 

The deal was signed by Yaacov Berkovitz, IAI VP and general manager for its aviation group, and D. Maiti, the CEO of HAL’s MiG Complex, which suggests that the work could be carried out in Nasik, near Mumbai, India, where HAL carries out aircraft manufacturing and overhaul. 

HAL chairman and managing director R. Madhavan said the MMTT had been identified as one of its “strategic diversification avenues.” 

The MMTT program sees ex-commercial 767s converted into military air-to-air refueling platforms. IAI offers options for a fly-by-wire boom, hose drum units or wing-mounted refueling pods. Colombia was the first customer for the 767-200 MMTT, delivered in 2010, which was upgraded with a tail boom three years later. 

The Indian Air Force (IAF) currently has six Ilyushin IL-78MKI tankers. Although it has not launched another official tanker procurement program, the IAF has expressed an intention to lease tankers via a performance-based agreement. A banner at the signing ceremony shows a 767 tanker with IAF ensign refueling a Sukhoi Su-30 and MiG-29, both in the IAF fleet. 

IAI has been increasing its presence in India in recent years, supplying the country with the Heron 1 UAS, and completing live interception tests of the MRSAM Air and Missile Defense System with India’s Defense Research and Development Organization in March.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.