Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on October 30, 2022, laid the foundation stone for the C-295 transport aircraft manufacturing facility at Vadodara to be set up by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) and Airbus Defence and Space. The C-295 will replace the Avro aircraft in service with IAF.
After laying the foundation stone, Mr. Modi said “Today we have taken a major step towards making India into an aircraft manufacturing hub. Today, India manufactures fighter planes, tanks, and submarines. Besides, Indian medicines and vaccines are saving the lives of millions across the globe. Now India will become a big manufacturer of transport aircraft.”
The Prime Minister added that “This is the first time that such a huge investment is taking place in India’s defence aerospace sector. Transport aircraft to be built in Vadodara will not only give strength to our armed forces but will also develop a new ecosystem for aircraft manufacturing.”
Mr. Modi said, “We have carried out several economic reforms over the years. These reforms have hugely benefitted the manufacturing sector and given it a boost.”
The Prime Minister said “Our policy is stable, predictable and futuristic. Through PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan and National Logistics Policy, we are trying to bring changes in the logistic system of the country.”
“In the coming years, the defence and aerospace sectors will be two important pillars for making India Aatmanirbhar. We have a goal of exceeding $25 billion in defence manufacturing by 2025. Besides, our defence exports would be more than $5 billion,” the Prime Minister said.
The IAF has 56 Avro transport aircraft procured in the 1960s and in urgent need of replacement. The Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued to global firms in May 2013 and the sole bid by Airbus and TASL with the C-295 aircraft was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in May 2015. In September 2021, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a ₹21,935 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space, Spain for the procurement of 56 C-295MW aircraft. 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.
The C-295 is an aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity used for tactical transport of up to 71 passengers or 50 paratroopers, and for logistic operations to locations that are not accessible to current heavier aircraft and has a proven capability of operating from short or unprepared airstrips, said N. Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons speaking at the event.
Of the 56 aircraft contracted, 16 will come in fly-away condition between September 2023 and August 2025. The first of 40, Made in India aircraft is expected from September 2026 and completed by 2031 at the rate of eight aircraft per year.
With 285 aircraft ordered and 38 operators in 34 different countries, the C295 has achieved more than 5,00,000 flight hours. India will become the 35th C295 operator worldwide.