₹22,000 crore deal with Airbus for 56 C-295 transport planes

First aircraft to be delivered to IAF in 2 years; They will replace ageing Avros

Updated - September 24, 2021 07:25 pm IST

Published - September 24, 2021 11:56 am IST - New Delhi

A C-295MW transport aircraft. Photo: Special Arrangement

A C-295MW transport aircraft. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Friday signed an estimated ₹22,000-crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space S.A., Spain, for 56 C-295MW transport aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force’s ageing 56 Avro aircraft that were procured in the 1960s.

This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India under technology transfer by the private sector.

“For the first time, an Indian private company will be wholly manufacturing an aircraft in India. Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), in partnership with Airbus, will literally take raw aluminium ingots on one end and convert it into a flyaway aircraft on the other end,” Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, TASL, told a small group of journalists. “It’s certainly a matter of great privilege to be able to say that Tata’s have now extended themselves from salt and software to cars to making planes now.”

Ratan Tata’s initiative

It had been 11 years since the Tata Group decided to partner with Airbus for the programme. This was one of the last projects that former Chairman of Tata Sons Ratan Tata helped put it together during the end of his tenure, Mr. Singh pointed out.

Also read:Explained | Why is Avro aircraft replacement and C-295 aircraft induction critical for the IAF?

However, TASL was yet to decide on the location of the manufacturing facility. Tata and Airbus together had looked at more than 100 locations very closely and evaluated for a range of factors such as the length of airstrip, availability of infrastructure, social indicators, among others. A final decision was yet to be taken, he stated.

The Defence Ministry said, “The aircraft will give a major boost to the tactical airlift capability of the IAF, especially in the northern and northeastern sectors and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands”.

16 to be delivered in flyaway condition

Of the 56 aircraft, 16 will be delivered in flyaway condition from Spain within 48 months and the remaining will be manufactured in India by the Tata Group within 10 years from the date of contract.

Rémi Maillard, President of Airbus India and Managing Director of South Asia region, said the first aircraft would be delivered to the IAF in two years and the delivery of 16 aircraft in flyaway condition completed within four years.

Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice President military aircraft of Airbus, noted: “Eventually the C-295 will be made in India with the creation of 15,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs over the coming 10 years and that is absolutely significant”.

The C295 , having 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. It also has a proven capability of operating from short or unprepared airstrips.

The MoD has also signed an offset contract with Airbus Defence and Space, through which Airbus will discharge its offset obligations through direct purchase of eligible products and services from Indian offset partners.

35th C295 operator worldwide

The IAF becomes the 35th C295 operator worldwide, with the programme reaching 278 aircraft, 200 of which are already in operation and have booked more than half a million flight-hours, says Airbus.

The Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued to global firms in May 2013 and the sole bid by Airbus and the Tata Group was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in May 2015. However, the final deal has been repeatedly delayed.

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