The Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday approved the purchase of 56 C-295MW military transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space in Spain for the Indian Air Force. Of the 56 aircraft, 16 will be purchased in flyway condition from Spain, while the rest 40 will be manufactured in India under the Make in India initiative by a consortium led by Tata Advanced Systems Limited in collaboration with Airbus.
C-295MW aircraft is a twin-turboprop transport aircraft of 5-10 Tonne capacity with contemporary technology that will replace the ageing Avro aircraft of IAF. The aircraft has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para dropping of troops and cargo. IAF currently operates 57 Hawker Siddeley HS 748 aircraft, originally designed by British company Avro and manufactured by HAL under licence in India, which are being retired.
HAL had offered to upgrade the HS 748 Avro fleet to modernise it, but the IAF had rejected the proposal. The lack of a rear ramp door in the Avro aircraft means that it can’t be used to transport military equipment for logistical support, and has largely been used for troop and VVIP movement.
According to a statement issued by the ministry of defence, 16 aircraft will be delivered in flyaway condition from Spain within 48 months of signing of the contract, and the rest 48 aircraft will be manufactured in India by TATA Consortium within ten years of signing of the contract.
This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company. All 56 aircraft will be installed with the indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite. The project will give a boost to the aerospace ecosystem in India wherein several MSMEs spread over the country will be involved in the manufacturing of parts of the aircraft, said the ministry.
The deal is reported to be worth around $2.5 billion, which will be signed among the Indian Air Force, Airbus and the Tata consortium. This deal marks the end of the monopoly of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the defence aircraft sector. The Tata group company already has joint ventures with global defence majors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Sikorsky etc for manufacturing crucial parts for defence aircraft.
The programme will provide a major boost to the `Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of the Government as it offers a unique opportunity for the Indian Private Sector to enter into a technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation Industry. The project will augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and an expected increase in exports.
According to the ministry, a large number of parts, sub-assemblies and major component assemblies of aerostructure are scheduled to be manufactured in India. The programme will act as a catalyst in employment generation in the aerospace ecosystem of the country and is expected to generate 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3000 indirect jobs and an additional 3000 medium skill employment opportunities.