India on Friday inked a nearly ₹20,000 crore contract with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 transport aircraft to replace the British built Avro-748 planes of the Indian Air Force. This is to modernise the Indian Air Force’s transport fleet, with the development coming a fortnight after India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the purchase to give a push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India campaign).This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India under technology transfer by the private sector.
“For the first time, an Indian private company will be wholly manufacturing an aircraft in India. Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), in partnership with Airbus, will literally take raw aluminium ingots on one end and convert it into a flyaway aircraft on the other end,” Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, TASL, told a small group of journalists. “It’s certainly a matter of great privilege to be able to say that Tata’s have now extended themselves from salt and software to cars to making planes now.” The C-295s will replace the IAF’s fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered service in the early 1960s. Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) will jointly execute the programme under which Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in flyaway condition from Spain while TASL will assemble the rest in India. IAF will become the 35th C-295 operator worldwide. The C-295 can carry up to nine tonnes of payload or 71 personnel (or 50 paratroopers) and has a maximum speed of 480 kmph. It has a light footprint and can operate from short or unprepared airstrips.