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Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited (TAAL) has been awarded a contract to undertake lifecycle modernisation of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft.

Under the Rs120m ($2m) contract, the company will use spares and components supplied by the IAF to retrofit the aircraft, as reported by The Times of India.

A total of eight bidders, including Tatas, L&T and Punj Lloyd, competed for the contract, which aims to increase the operation of MiG-29s for a period of 40 years.

TAAL CEO NC Agrawal said the air force will provide training for the first two aircraft and subsequently hopes to upgrade four MiG-29s every three months.

While upgrades will be performed jointly by the company and IAF, experienced manpower from the air force and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will also be outsourced.

"The size of the contract may not be much, but TAAL finds that it will help the company go a long way," Agrawal added.

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"Even for us, it will be treading a new path with all its risks. However, it will provide an experience in an altogether new field."

The contract makes TAAL the first private company to modernise an entire IAF aircraft, which until now would be performed by the state-owned HAL.

"The contract makes TAAL the first private company to modernise an entire IAF aircraft, which until now would be performed by the state-owned HAL."

Meanwhile, the IAF is also set to finalise a private vendor for the upgrade of its AN-32 transport aircraft within a week, according to the news agency.

In 2013, the air force issued a request for information (RFI) for the MiG-29s and AN-32 upgrade, and received responses from seven private companies.

Work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out at the base repair depot (BRD) at Nashik.

The BRDs fall under Nagpur-based maintenance command of IAF, which reportedly has nearly 50 MiG-29s in its inventory.

Manufactured by Mikoyan design bureau, the MiG-29 Fulcrum is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed to destroy hostile air and surface targets within radar coverage limits, using unguided weapons during visual flight conditions.

The aircraft operates in air forces of Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, North Korea, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

Image: An Indian Air Force MiG-29 fighter aircraft on display at Aero India 2009. Photo: courtesy of aztonyx.

Defence Technology