Defence

Ministry of Defence signs military transport aircraft deal worth Rs.21,000 crore with Airbus Defence and Space

Published : September 24, 2021 17:51 IST

Officials from the Ministry of Defence and Airbus Defence and Space, Spain, during the signing of the contract for the acquisition of 56 C295MW transport aircraft for the IAF, in New Delhi on September 24. Photo: PTI

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) inked a deal on September 24 with the European aerospace manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space for the procurement of 56 C295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) inked a deal on September 24 with the European aerospace manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space for the procurement of 56 C295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The twin-turboprop C295MW aircraft will replace the vintage Avro-748s that have been part of the IAF’s inventory since the early 1960s. The new planes will also take on some tasks of the AN-32 fleet, the ageing workforce of the IAF.

Delivery of 16 C295MW aircraft in a flyaway condition manufactured at Airbus’ production facility in Spain are scheduled to arrive within a two-year period. The remaining 40 will be manufactured in India by the Tata Consortium over a ten-year period.

The C295MW deal will witness for the first time a consortium/company from the Indian private sector producing a military aircraft in India under a transfer of technology arrangement from a foreign original equipment manufacturer. Hitherto, it was only the defence public sector enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) that had a virtual monopoly in the field of license production of military combat and transport aircraft.

The aircraft deal, which costs over Rs.21,000 crore (around $2.8 billion), was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security on September 8, seven years after being consigned to the back-burner. The Tata-Airbus C295 project had been approved by the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), headed by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in May 2015.

The induction of the C295MWs, which are in the 5 to 10 tonne capacity range and equipped with contemporary technology, will significantly boost the modernisation plans of the transport fleet of the IAF. Capable of operating from semi-prepared airstrips and advanced landing grounds (ALGs) such as the IAF’s Vijayanagar ALG in Arunachal Pradesh, the C295s have a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo. The aircraft will give a major boost to the tactical airlift capability of the IAF, especially in the northern and north-eastern sectors and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. All 56 aircraft will be installed with indigenously designed and developed electronic warfare suites.

Bharath Bushan Babu, spokesperson for the MoD, tweeted: “Contract signed between Ministry of Defence and Air bus Defence and Space, Spain, for procurement of 56 C295 transport aircraft for the IAF.”Once deliveries of the 56 aircraft are completed, subsequent aircraft manufactured in India can be exported to countries which are cleared by the Government of India. Officials at the MoD said that the project “will give a boost to the aerospace ecosystem in India with several MSMEs spread across the country getting involved in manufacturing of parts for the aircraft”. The C295 programme will also involve development of specialised infrastructure in the form of hangars, buildings, aprons and taxiways.

As part of the deal, the MoD has also signed an “offset contract” with Airbus Defence and Space through which Airbus will discharge its offset obligations through direct purchase of eligible products and services from Indian offset partners.

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