India seals mega deal with Airbus for purchase of 56 C-295 military transport aircraft

India on Friday sealed a nearly Rs 21,000 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro-748 planes of the IAF under a project that entails manufacturing of military aircraft in India for the first time by a private company.Under the agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in fly-away condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain within four years.


PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 24-09-2021 22:25 IST | Created: 24-09-2021 22:25 IST
India seals mega deal with Airbus for purchase of 56 C-295 military transport aircraft
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India on Friday sealed a nearly Rs 21,000 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro-748 planes of the IAF under a project that entails manufacturing of military aircraft in India for the first time by a private company.

Under the agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in 'fly-away' condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain within four years. The subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of a partnership between the two companies and all the deliveries will be made by 2031.

''The aircraft is capable of operating from semi-prepared strips and has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para dropping of troops and cargo. The aircraft will give a major boost to tactical airlift capability of IAF, especially in the Northern and North-Eastern sector and Andaman & Nicobar Islands,'' the defence ministry said in a statement.

The mega-contract was signed two weeks after it was cleared by the prime minister-led Cabinet Committee on Security.

The ministry said all the deliveries will be completed within 10 years of the signing the contract and that the aircraft manufactured in India subsequently can be exported to countries following approval from the government.

Airbus officials said the first aircraft is expected to be delivered in two years.

The ministry said induction of the aircraft having 5-10 tonne capacity will be a significant step towards modernisation of the transport fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Avro aircraft were first inducted around 60 years back. The IAF will become the 35th C295 operator worldwide.

Chairman of Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata, congratulated Airbus Defence, TASL and the Defence Ministry on the inking of the contract, saying it is a ''great step'' forward in the opening up of the aviation and avionics projects in India. In a signed statement posted on Twitter, he said the project will create a domestic supply chain capability to international standards, which has never been undertaken before. Airbus said the first 16 aircraft will be delivered over four years after the contract implementation and that all the planes will be equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite (EWS). ''This contract will support the further development of India's aerospace ecosystem, bringing investment and 15,000 skilled direct jobs and 10,000 indirect positions over the coming 10 years,'' said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.

Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tata Advanced Systems Limited, described the sealing of the deal as a moment of pride for Tatas and a ''milestone'' for the Indian military manufacturing ecosystem. ''For the first time, an Indian private company will be wholly manufacturing an aircraft in India. This endeavour demonstrates Tata Advanced Systems' capabilities as a defence manufacturer to build globally competitive complex platforms in India,'' he said.

Singh said Ratan Tata, in his capacity as the chairman of the Tata Group, had helped put together the project.

TASL and Airbus Defence and Space have not yet decided on the place where the manufacturing hub will be located.

''More than 100 locations across India have been looked at and evaluated over the years. We have looked at aspects such as length of the airstrip, availability of infrastructure, social indicators and weather. We are yet to make a decision. We have to ensure that all stakeholders are happy,'' Singh said at a media briefing.

Jean-Brice Dumont, the Executive Vice President (Military Aircraft) of Airbus said the contract marks the beginning of a new industrial journey for India and that the project is ''extremely significant''. ''It is not just a defence project, it marks a new beginning and will place India as a leading player globally in aircraft manufacturing. We are unleashing the potential of India through this project,'' he said.

Asked whether Airbus is looking at building aircraft in India for the export market, he said it could be a possibility but the immediate priority is to execute the current project. Remi Maillard, president of Airbus India and head of the South Asia region, said all major components of the aircraft will be manufactured in India.

''It is not about sharing one technology, we are talking about building an entire aircraft in India,'' he said.

The defence ministry said it has also signed an offset contract with Airbus Defence and Space through it will discharge its offset obligations through direct purchase of eligible products and services from its Indian partners. In a statement, Airbus said 'Make in India' is at the heart of its strategy in India, with the company constantly increasing the country's contribution to its global product portfolio. It said the C295 programme will see Airbus bring its complete bouquet of world-class aircraft manufacturing and servicing to India in collaboration with its industrial partners, including the Tatas and leading defence public sector units such as Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd.

With a proven capability of operating from short or unprepared airstrips, the C295 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 said. The aircraft can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation. The aircraft is capable of performing special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties.

''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,'' Airbus said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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