Explained: The C-295 transport airplane that will now be manufactured in Gujarat


India’s move to becoming aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) in the defence sector received a major boost on Thursday. The Narendra Modi-led government announced that the Indian Air Force’s C-295 transport aircraft will be manufactured by a consortium led by Tata group and Airbus in Gujarat’s Vadodara.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday (30 October) lay the foundation stone for the manufacturing facility.

Speaking about the significance of this development, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said, “For the first time, the Airbus C-295 aircraft will be manufactured outside of Europe. This is very significant for the domestic aerospace sector.”

Let’s take a closer look at the C-295 plane and the deal inked by IAF for the transport aircraft.

The C-295

The C-295 is a new-generation tactical airlifter in the light and medium segment. This plane will replace the IAF’s ageing Avro Hawker Siddeley HS748 aircraft of the Indian Air Force. The Avro has been in the IAF fleet since the 1960s.

The C295 is known to be a superior aircraft 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.

It has a maximum speed of 480 kmph. Moreover, the C-295 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. This means it can operate from short or unprepared airstrips.

According to Airbus, the plane can be transformed into several variants, including a water bomber, an air tanker (for air-to-air refuelling), for transporting VIPs and for medical evacuation, making it a huge asset for the IAF.

Moreover, the C295 can operate in day and night conditions as well as all weather extremes — from desert to maritime environments, from extremely hot to extremely cold temperatures.

IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh has said that the C-295 exceeds the performance of the Avro and the AN-32 transport planes and is also extremely fuel efficient.

The C-295 deal

The Tata-Airbus plan is seen as a significant gain for Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make-In-India’ campaign and will also take forward the agreement struck last year for 56 C-295MW aircraft.

In September 2021, India had signed a Rs 21,935-crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 aircraft. As per the deal, 16 aircraft will be delivered in flyaway condition and 40 will be manufactured in India at the Vadodara facility.

The Vadodara facility will be India’s first private sector aviation manufacturing complex, breaking the monopoly of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the country’s sole aircraft producer thus far.

According to the defence secretary, the first 16 planes are scheduled to be received between September 2023 and August 2025. The first Made-in-India aircraft is expected in September 2026. He added that eight aircraft per year would be manufactured in India, starting 2026.

Speaking about the manufacturing, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said that more than 125 micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) suppliers in seven states will support the project and more than 4.25 million manhours of work will be generated.

Apart from the 56 planes, the Vadodara facility, as per a Hindustan Times report, will be capable of meeting additional requirement of the Indian Air Force and also cater to export orders.

“The project offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into technology intensive and highly competitive aviation industry. It will augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and expected increase in exports,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

With inputs from agencies

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Explained: The C-295 transport airplane that will now be manufactured in Gujarat
Explained: The C-295 transport airplane that will now be manufactured in Gujarat
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