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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Govt signs major deal with Airbus for 56 military transport aircraft

Aircraft to be delivered between two and ten years; 40 to be made in India in partnership with Tata

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: September 24, 2021 10:18:55 pm
The Airbus C-295 medium transport aircraft. (Photo: Airbus)

India Friday signed a contract estimated to be worth Rs 20,000 crore with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 military transport aircraft.

The new aircraft will replace the IAF’s Avro-748 planes. The first 16 of these will be delivered in flyaway condition from Spain between the next two and four years.

The remaining 40 will be manufactured by Tata Advanced Systems along with Airbus in India. These deliveries will begin from the fourth or fifth year from now and end by the tenth year.

This is India’s first aerospace programme in the private sector.

The Cabinet Committee on Security approved the deal, which has been in the works for a decade, earlier this month. On Friday, besides the deal, the Defence Ministry signed an offset contract with Airbus. As part of this, company will discharge its offset obligations through direct purchase of eligible products and services from Indian offset partners.

While officials have been tight-lipped about the deal, sources say it is estimated at over Rs 20,000 crore. The programme will involve the development of a complete industrial ecosystem — from manufacturing, assembly and tests to delivery and lifecycle maintenance.

All the aircraft will be equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite and handed over in a transport configuration. The government has called this a “big step towards modernisation of the IAF transport fleet”.

Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, told reporters that the company, along with Airbus, has considered more than a hundred sites to set up the production facility. A final call, in consultation with all stakeholders including the local residents, is yet to be taken.

Remi Millard, President and MD, Airbus South Asia, said the project is much more ambitious than a mere technology transfer, as it is aimed at manufacturing the aircraft in the country. He said this will place India on the global map to manufacture such aircraft.

His colleague Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice-President, Military Aircraft, said there is a “real” export potential from these facilities, but the priority is to honour the commitment to the Air Force. He said that the engines for the 40 aircraft manufactured in India will have to be imported. But, he added, the technology transfer to make engines within the country is just a “matter of time”.

According to Airbus, the C-295 has a proven capability of operating from short or unprepared airstrips, and can be used for tactical transportation of up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers. It can also be deployed for logistics operations to locations inaccessible to heavier aircraft. It can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation. It can perform special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties.

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