AviationDefenceIndian Air Force

Airbus To Deliver Inaugural C295 Aircraft To IAF In September, Marking A Milestone For ‘Make In India’ Initiative

Story Highlights
  • The radar warning receiver and the missile approach warning system came from BEL, while the system for giving out countermeasures came from BDL, the sources said.
  • The Airbus-Tata combine will be able to sell Indian-made planes to private operators and export them to countries that New Delhi has approved.

Indian Air Force (IAF) crews will test India’s first C295 transport aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space’s Seville facility in southern Spain in early September before taking delivery of the plane and flying it to the country. This will start a key Make in India project worth 21,935 crore to equip the IAF with 56 of these planes to modernize its transport fleet, Airbus officials said on Wednesday.

Forty of these planes will be made in India, and work on making them there is already well under way, sources said.

The first plane took its first flight in May, and the second one is almost done being put together at Airbus’s plant in Seville. It will be given to the IAF in May 2024.

The first C295 will be sent out two years after the defense minister signed a contract with Airbus. This was done to make the defense manufacturing sector more self-sufficient. The work is being run by both Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Airbus.

Jorge Tamarit, who is in charge of the C295 India program, said that six IAF pilots and twenty technicians were trained at the Seville site. This is where the transport planes are put together for the last time.

He said that next year, Seville will train another 18 pilots and 60 techs.

The first plane will be flown to India by a four-person IAF team, including two pilots and a flight engineer from Airbus.

Airbus will send the first 16 C295 planes to the IAF ready to fly from Spain. The remaining 40 planes will be put together in India. Tamarit said that the amount of locally made parts in the planes will gradually rise, reaching a peak with the 32nd plane.

Jorge Madrid, a top Airbus official involved with the Indian program, said that the main assembly line for the C295 that Tata set up in Hyderabad will start working next week, and the final assembly line in Vadodara will start working in November 2024. The Hyderabad plant will focus on making and putting together C295 parts that will be used at the Vadodara plant to build the whole plane. He said that next year, a training center for C295 pilots will be ready in Agra.

In October 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi helped Tata and Airbus lay the cornerstone for a factory that would be built in Vadodara. The first combat plane to be made in India by a private consortium will be the C295.

Officials say that the 16 planes that are ready to fly will be sent out between September 2023 and August 2025. The first Made in India C295 will leave the Vadodara plant in September 2026, and the last 39 will leave by August 2031.

Tamarit said, “The delivery schedule is very tight, but Airbus is working hard to give the IAF an important capability and strengthen India’s aerospace and defense sector.”

IAF will have more C295s than anyone else in the world. The plane was bought to replace the IAF’s fleet of Avro-748 planes, which had been in service since the early 1960s and were getting old.

As part of the C295 India project, the country will make more than 13,000 parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies, and all major component assemblies. Tamarit said that about 3,500 parts are expected to be made in India every year.

“As part of the main constituent assembly transfer plan, the amount of locally made parts in the planes that are put together in India will rise over time. It includes everything from the winglets to the body and aerostructures to several control units,” Tamarit said.

Engines, landing gear, and avionics will be given by Airbus, and the consortium will put them together with the rest of the plane. There are two Pratt & Whitney PW127G turboprop engines that power the tactical airlifter.

Tamarit said that the final assembly line in India, which will be the first one outside of Spain, will be able to build 12 planes a year and will be run by Tata to the same high standards as the C295 final assembly line in Seville.

The C295 deal covers performance-based logistics support for five years, supply of spares for 10 operating bases for 10 years, ground support and test equipment, and training, officials said.

Before the C295 deal was signed, the project to replace Avro had been going on for more than a decade. India’s top defense buying body, the defence purchase council, gave its acceptance of necessity (AoN) in 2012 for 56 new planes to replace the Avro planes. India has rules about how to buy military equipment, and AoN by the council is the first step in the process.

Officials say that the C295 final assembly line in India is the first large-scale, concrete Make-in-India defense program in the private sector. It will unlock the industrial value chain of designing, making, assembling, testing, delivering, and maintaining the aircraft over its entire lifecycle.

The C295 can take up to 9 tons of cargo, 71 people, or 45 paratroopers, and can go as fast as 480 km/h at its top speed. It can also fly from short or unprepared airstrips, has a back ramp for parachuting troops and goods, and will improve the IAF’s ability to get things where they need to go.

In addition to the 56 planes that have already been bought, the C295 facility in Vadodara will be able to meet the needs of the Indian military and take orders from outside the country. Officials say that the Airbus-Tata group is in talks with the defense ministry about meeting the needs of the navy and coast guard, which want nine and six maritime planes, respectively.

The electronic warfare suite made by Bharat Electronics Ltd. and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. will be installed on all 56 planes. The radar warning receiver and the missile approach warning system came from BEL, while the system for giving out countermeasures came from BDL, the sources said.

After 56 planes have been given to the IAF, the Airbus-Tata combine will be able to sell Indian-made planes to private operators and export them to countries that New Delhi has approved.

Officials said that the project will help India’s aircraft industry and create 15,000 skilled jobs and 10,000 direct jobs.

The new company made up of Airbus and Tata has found more than 125 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in seven states.

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