Airbus and India’s TATA group agreed to build at least 40 C-295 transport aircraft in India as part of a Rs 21,935-crore deal, with the final assembly line located in Gujarat’s Vadodara. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the groundwork for the production factory, extending a last-year arrangement for 56 C-295MW aircraft with 5 to 10 tonne capacity and sophisticated technology.
According to defense sources, depending on demand, components of the aircraft will be built at various sites across the country. In addition, the aircraft’s first squadron will be established in Vadodara. The project has been in the works since 2010, with the purpose of replacing the old fleet of Avro cargo planes, the first of which took to the skies in 1961.
Despite the fact that contract cost negotiations were completed seven years ago, the deal was blocked due to budgetary concerns and the prioritizing of various other projects. Airbus has not raised its prices since 2014.
The deal asks for 16 aircraft to be delivered in flyaway condition and 40 aircraft to be built in India by the Indian Aircraft Contractor — TATA Consortium, which includes Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), both of which are administered by TASL.
According to Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar in New Delhi, the first 16 fly-away aircraft are scheduled to arrive from Airbus in Spain between September 2023 and August 2025, with the first Made in India aircraft arriving in September 2026.
Beginning in 2026, India will construct eight planes per year. This is the first initiative of its kind in India, with a commercial enterprise producing military aircraft. Kumar noted that this project should not be considered a one-time endeavor to produce the C-295 aircraft, but rather as the start of a new aviation ecosystem.
While the IAF’s order is now only 56, the Navy and Coast Guard are also looking at 16 each, according to defense sources. Furthermore, because the C-295s have a cargo capacity comparable to the AN32s while delivering superior avionics, fuel efficiency, and landing capabilities, the IAF may place additional orders in the future based on a transport capability study.
Because the C-295s are smaller than the IAF’s fleet of C-130Js, C-17s, and IL-76s, they can take off and land at many locations where larger aircraft cannot.
Kumar claimed that the aircraft has export potential and that the goal is to develop a Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facility to satisfy the needs of the region. Countries that operate the C-295 aircraft include the UAE, Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia, among others.
IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh indicated during the briefing that the IAF would eventually become the world’s largest operator of the C-295 facility.
When queried about the content of the indigenization, Kumar indicated that the TATA Consortium would perform 96 percent of the “total man-hour work per aircraft” that Airbus employs at its manufacturing plants in Spain. “India will manufacture about 13,400 Detail Parts, 4,600 Sub-Assemblies, and all seven Major Component Assemblies, as well as tools, jigs, and testers,” he said.
According to a Defense Ministry release, Airbus Defence & Space will provide various components including engines, landing gear, avionics, and an EW suite, which will be fitted on the aircraft by the TATA Consortium.
For all 56 aircraft, Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited will develop an indigenous Electronic Warfare suite. The aircraft, according to Kumar, will be evaluated as an integrated system by the TATA Consortium and delivered through self-certification, a first for the country.
Kumar noted that this was done as part of an effort to adhere to international standards, as Airbus self-certifies its own aircraft in other nations. According to the Defence Secretary, a new policy is being established that may be extended to other manufacturers as well.
The CASA C-295 (now known as the Airbus C295) is a medium tactical transport plane designed and manufactured by the Spanish aerospace company CASA.
Throughout the 1990s, the C-295 was developed as a variant of the successful CASA/IPTN CN-235 freight aircraft. On November 28, 1997, the prototype took to the skies for the first time, and mass production began soon after. In April 1999, the Spanish Air Force became the type’s first customer, ordering nine military-configured C-295s; the type was certified operational with the service two years later.
Additional C-295 orders would be placed soon after. It was renamed the EADS CASA C-295 following CASA’s merger with the pan-European aviation company EADS in 2000. The quantity manufacturing of the type was accomplished around the same time. The majority of C-295s are manufactured in Spain, however, Indonesian Aerospace has established international production, and a separate arrangement with India’s Tata Group has been negotiated.
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