The defence ministry on Friday inked a nearly Rs 20,000 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space of Spain to procure 56 C-295 medium transport aircraft which will replace the ageing Avro-748 planes of the Indian Air Force.
It is the first project of its kind under which military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company, officials said.
Under the deal, 16 aircraft will be delivered in a flyaway condition by the Airbus Defence and Space of Spain within 48 months of signing the contract.
The remaining 40 planes will be manufactured in India by a consortium of the Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) within 10 years of signing the contract, officials said.
The contract was signed two weeks after it was cleared by the prime minister-led Cabinet Committee on Security.
A contract for acquisition of 56 C-295 MW transport ac for #IAF was signed today between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) & M/s Airbus Defence and Space, Spain. Induction of the aircraft will be another step towards modernisation of the tpt fleet of IAF. pic.twitter.com/uThF3bAI43
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) September 24, 2021
"A contract for acquisition of 56 C-295 MW transport ac for #IAF was signed today between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) & M/s Airbus Defence and Space, Spain. Induction of the aircraft will be another step towards modernisation of the tpt fleet of IAF,” tweeted defence ministry spokesperson A Bharat Bhushan Babu.
The C-295 aircraft
The C-295, a transport plane of 5-10 tonne capacity, is used for tactical transport of up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers, and for logistic operations to locations that are not accessible to current heavier aircraft.
The C295, as Airbus states, conducts multi-role operations worldwide under all weather conditions. It is fully certified and routinely operates day and night in combat missions in all weather extremes, from desert to maritime environments, from extremely hot to extremely cold temperatures.
India acquires 56 Airbus #C295 aircraft.
➡️ Programme to kick-start first-ever private aircraft manufacturing in India;
➡️ Will contribute significantly to developing the country’s military industry.@tataadvanced #MakeInIndia pic.twitter.com/QknAUDMGYR
— Airbus Defence (@AirbusDefence) September 24, 2021
The plane can also be used for long deployments with its capability of up to 11 hours in the air.
The C295’s Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) capability combined with a strong landing gear enable it to operate in the most austere locations with the worst conditions for take-off and landings.
The C295 is a tactical military transport aircraft with a light footprint to enable operations from short (no longer than 670 m/2,200 ft), soft and rough (CBR 2) unprepared airstrips.
The C295 is also designed to provide outstanding low-level flight characteristics for tactical missions, flying at speeds down to 110 knots.
Speaking of the contract, Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: This contract will support the further development of India’s aerospace ecosystem, bringing investment and 15,000 skilled direct jobs and 10,000 indirect positions over the coming 10 years. The C295 has proven again as the segment leader, and with the addition of India as a new operator, the type will enlarge its footprint even more, not only on the operational aspects but on its own industrial and technological development.”
Replacing the Avro-748 planes
The Airbus' new aircraft will replace Indian Air Force's ageing fleet of Avro-748 planes.
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.
As per the contract, of the 56 planes, 40 would be manufactured in India by a consortium of the Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited.
The Chairman of Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata, congratulated the Airbus Defence, Tata Advanced Systems Limited and the Defence Ministry on the inking of the contract.
In a signed statement posted on Twitter, he said the clearance of the joint project between Airbus Defence and Tata Advanced Systems to build the aircraft is a "great step" forward in the opening up of the aviation and avionics projects in India.
— Ratan N. Tata (@RNTata2000) September 24, 2021
"It will create a domestic supply chain capability to international standards, which has never been undertaken before. The Tata Group congratulates Airbus and the Indian Defence Ministry for this bold step in fully building this state-of-the-art multi-role aircraft in India in support of the Make-in-India thrust to bolster the country's equity framework," Tata said.
With inputs from agencies