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Geopolitical situations across the globe have fueled a rise in active engagements with insurgents and non-state actors. This leads to an increase in the operational tempo of transport fleet, as a result of which aging aircraft need to be replaced. A collaborative approach in combating these challenges is seen, as exemplified in the actions of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which fought Yemeni rebels, and the NATO MRTT program, which envisages the joint operation and maintenance of airborne tanker aircraft. At the same time, China and Russia have made expansionist moves in the South/East China Sea and Crimea, respectively, and have indicated possible enhanced participation in global conflicts. Russian intervention in Syria attests to this fact. Both the nations are poised to expand their strategic lift and tactical transport capabilities.The market will open up for heavy transports as old Il-76 used by countries such as Algeria and India will have to be phased out. This segment will become more competitive, as Airbus A400M, Kawasaki C-2, and Xi’an Y-20 are expected to consolidate in the market.Fleet obsolescence will be high in the medium and light transport segments. C-130-based platforms form the majority of medium transport solutions in use today. Most of the old C-130 variants will have to be phased out during the study period. Japan will phase out its medium transport fleet by inducting the Kawasaki C-2 in large numbers, while other countries are likely to procure the latest C-130J solution or Chinese/Russian options. Delays in the A-400M program have forced major European nations such as France and Germany toward C-130 life extensions and stopgap procurement of the C-130J. Embraer’s KC-390 will be introduced in the short-to-medium term, which is likely to pose competition to Lockheed Martin’s medium transport procurement programs. KC-390 procurement has already been committed to by countries such as Brazil and Argentina. The OEM is working toward securing a foothold in the European market through a possible contract for medium transports from Portugal. The continuing US Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey light transport procurement program drives the forecast spending during the first half of the study period.Demand for mid-air refuel aircraft is high in the Asia-Pacific and South Asian regions and will continue to remain so throughout the next decade, as countries such as India, South Korea, and China will procure new tankers. In the North American region, KC-46A deliveries are set to begin in 2018, after some delay.The VIP segment offers significant opportunities during the medium and long terms. The inventory mix in this segment is diverse, as nations operate a number of different aircraft types. To reduce logistical impediments and associated high operational costs, nations will be interested in rationalizing platform types as part of new procurement programs.The prevalent and future operational requirement of major spenders will be: short take off and landing from semi-prepared runways, low maintenance and operational costs (including fuel-efficient engines), multi-role capability to lower logistics and inventory costs, and the ability to take off and land in high-altitude bases. Modernization and upgrades will be oriented towards life extension, avionics upgrades (especially glass cockpit), and the addition of active protection systems.Joint development and indigenous manufacturing is seen in some markets. Taqnia of Saudi Arabia has partnered with Antonov to develop An-132D and plans to build it in Saudi Arabia by 2020. In India, local company Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. is partnering with Airbus DS to offer the C-295 solution for replacing old Avro aircraft.Author: Arjun Sreekumar
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