Mumbai: Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group is forging a series of tie-ups with foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bolster its presence in the defence business. The latest one is with Ukraine-based Antonov Co. for aircraft manufacturing.

On Thursday, Reliance Defence Ltd, a unit of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, said it has signed an agreement with state-run Antonov to cooperate on the dual version transport aircraft for military, para-military and commercial use in India.

The programme valued at over 35,000 crore is estimated to generate employment for over 7,000 people in the primary and secondary industrial sectors in the region, Reliance Defence said in a statement.

However, it did not specify the break-up of investments made by each company or structure of the joint venture.

“Reliance Defence together with State Corporation Antonov would jointly address various requirements including 50-80 seat passenger aircraft in its basic configuration and in all its variants such as transport, maritime patrol and other military roles," it said.

“The partnership agreement would provide the benefits of quality and low cost solution for 50-80 seater aircraft through its core competencies," it said.

Antonov or the An-class of aircraft has served the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Navy for over five decades.

Currently, the IAF has more than 100 An-32 aircraft, which are due for replacement.

The partnership between Reliance Defence and Antonov covers design of fixed wing military aircraft configured for use in tactical as well as strategic roles. Powered by two turbofan high fuel-efficiency jet engines, the medium lift aircraft is suitable for short field runways operating from remote airfields with unpaved surfaces.

India has a requirement of over 200 medium lift turbofan aircraft which form the back bone of all tactical logistic Transport Support Role (TSR) as well as Route Transport Roles (RTR) of the Air Force, Army and para military forces.

“The joint venture by Reliance Defence and Antonov envisages design and manufacture of the medium lift dual use turbofan aircraft in India with transfer of niche technologies. This will be located at India’s first integrated Aerospace Park at Mihan, Nagpur," said the company.

On Tuesday, Reliance Defence and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd had agreed to set up a joint venture (JV) in the specialized areas of air-to-air missiles, air defence systems and large aerostats. The project will have an initial capital outlay of more than 1,300 crore, excluding the cost of technology.

On 4 November, the Reliance Infrastructure board said new high-growth opportunities in defence, arising from the Make in India and Skill India policies, serve vital national interests and have several attractive features.

The Reliance group has tied up with many OEMs including Singapore-based Augur Overseas Operation Pte Ltd, Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co, Zvezdochka shipyard of Russia, Emirates Defence Industries Co, Thales Group, United Ship Building Co of Russia and Almaz-Antey JSC of Russia.

Reliance Group firms have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.

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