India's Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the purchase of 56 C-295 medium transport aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force's ageing fleet of Avro-748 planes, the defence ministry announced on Wednesday.
The Avro replacement project was in the works for almost a decade. The sole bid by Airbus and Tata with the C-295 aircraft for the Avro replacement programme was approved by the DAC in May 2015, but the contractual negotiations have been repeatedly delayed.
Before the new planes take on the 'tasks' of the ageing fleet, let's take a look at Hawker Siddeley 748, which served IAF and Vayudoot with distinction.
The Avro Hawker Siddeley HS748 is a twin-engine turboprop military transport and freighter of British origin. The aircraft, which could carry 48 paratroopers or six tonnes of freight, has been in the IAF fleet since the 1960s.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had initiated the manufacture of the Avro (later Hawker Siddeley and still later British Aerospace) 748, in technical collaboration with the British aircraft and its engine manufacturers.
These aircraft were essentially acquired and subsequently manufactured to meet the requirements of the Indian Air Force.
In view of the need for a similar aircraft type for Indian Airlines, the government determined that the same Avro 748, delivered from HAL should fulfil this need which precluded further purchases of the Dutch-origin Fokker F-27s.
In order to help in the sale of HS 748s to Indian Airlines, these were actually subsidised by the government such as to make the HAL delivery price equal to that of the imported F-27.
The HS 748 was a versatile regional airliner powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart engines. Designed and built as a replacement for Douglas DC-3, HS 748 could carry 44-52 passengers in the cabin.
The type entered service with launch customer Skyways Coach-Air on 1 April, 1962.
The variants included the Series 1, of which 24 were built before production switched to the 52-seat series with more powerful Rolls-Royce Dart RDa7 MK.531 engines. This was followed by the upgraded Series 2A and 2B and the 'Super 748'.
The HS 780 'Andover' was a modified version of the 748, created for the Royal Air Force as a tactical transporter. The model featured an unswept rear fuselage and raised tail to accommodate a large rear loading camp.
Operated around the world from war-torn countries to the Arctic, the HS 748 found a niche within the market. Production continued until 1988 when 381 airframes had been built.
Significant users included Indian Airlines (Hindustan Aeronautics-built); Aerolineas Argentinas; VARIG; Phillipine Airlines; Thai Airways; LAN-Chile; Bouraq Airlines; the Indian Air Force (Hindustan Aeronautics-built); Brazilian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.
The last British HS748 to be built made its maiden flight at Woodford on 1 December 1988.
In India, two of the locally-built HS 748 Srs 2M aircraft were modified with a large, circular, pylon-mounted surveillance antenna carried above the fuselage as the HAL 748 ASP (Airborne Surveillance Platform).
One HS748 Andover C.1 PR (XS596) remained in use with the RAF at least until 2008, being used as the nominated UK aircraft under the international Open Skies treaty.
A small number of aircraft were also converted for electronic calibration duties, these being designated as HS748 Andover E.3 or hs748 Andover E.3A.
The BAe ATP was effectively a stretched and re-engined development of the HS748, designed for commuter airline and freight use.
|HS 748 Series 2A|
|Powerplant||Two 2,280 eshp Rolls-Royce R.Da.7 Dart Mk 534-2 or Mk 532-2L|
|Span||98 ft 6 in|
|Maximum Weight||46,500 lb|
|Capacity||Two flight crew, 40 – 48 passengers, or mixed passenger/freight layout|
|Cruise Speed||280 mph (244 kt)|
|Range||1,066 miles with full payload and reserves; 1,796 miles with full fuel, 7,800 lb payload and reserves|
With inputs from agencies