The Indian Air Force (IAF) formally began phasing out its legacy HS-748 Avro transport aircraft from service when the first C-295MW transport aircraft was inducted into service in a formal ceremony at the Hindon Air Force Station on Monday. The first aircraft was inducted into the No. 11 Squadron, ‘The Rhinos’, based in Vadodara.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with IAF Air Chief Marshal (ACM) V. R. Chaudhari attended the ‘Sarv Dharm Puja’ induction ceremony. Prior to this, Mr. Singh inaugurated Bharat Drone Shakti 2023, a two-day drone exhibition and display event jointly organised by the IAF and the Drone Federation of India (DFI) featuring over 75 drone start-ups from across the country.
“This medium lift tactical aircraft is capable of taking off and landing from unprepared landing grounds and it will replace the HS-748 Avro aircraft. The induction of C-295 will bolster medium lift tactical capability of the IAF. The Defence and Aerospace sectors are the two important pillars for making India self-reliant in coming years,” Mr. Singh said on social media after the event.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Chaudhari formally received the aircraft at the Airbus facility at Seville in Spain. Following this, the aircraft was flown to India by a joint IAF-Airbus crew last week.
In September 2021, the Defence Ministry signed a ₹22,000 crore deal with Airbus and Space S.A., Spain for procurement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft to replace the Avro aircraft in service with the IAF. The first 16 C295s of the 56 aircraft on order will be assembled at the San Pablo Sur site in Seville, with the second aircraft due to be delivered in May 2024, and the next 14 rolled out at a rate of one per month until August 2025, Airbus said. The remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured by Airbus jointly with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL). Work is underway for setting up the final assembly line (FAL) at Vadodara in Gujarat, and the first aircraft manufactured in India would be delivered in September 2026, as reported by The Hindu earlier.
Production of components for the aircraft to be manufactured in India has already commenced in the main constituent assembly facility in Hyderabad, and these parts will be shipped to the Vadovara final assembly line, which is scheduled to become operational by November 2024. The 56th and final aircraft is expected to be delivered to the IAF by August 2031, according to Airbus.
The C-295, with a carrying capacity of nine tonnes, can transport up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers, airdrop cargo, be deployed for medical evacuation, and take off and land in short and unpaved runways, according to Airbus.
The drones featured during the event can be employed for a variety of military and civil applications, a Defence Ministry statement said, adding: “By showcasing their capabilities through a series of aerial and static demonstrations, the IAF and DFI seek to bolster the Government’s initiative to make India a major drone hub by 2030.”
The IAF on social media described the drone fest as “the latest in drone technology, from agriculture to delivery systems, all under one roof”.
During the event, the Defence Minister and other attending dignitaries were also briefed on the latest in-house innovations of the IAF at an exhibition featuring projects such as a hybrid drone detection system, an Artificial Intelligence (Al) engine for fault diagnosis, a fly-by-wire tester, stabilised power supply trolleys, a QR code-based tool crib management system, and also modern teaching aids, the statement added.