In a significant boost to the ‘Make in India’ defence programme and domestic aviation manufacturing, the government announced on 27 October that a transport aircraft manufacturing facility for the Indian Air Force would come up in Gujarat. To start with, 40 of the 56 C-295MW transport aircraft being procured from Airbus Defence and Space SA, Spain, will be manufactured at the new facility in Vadodara.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation of a transport aircraft manufacturing project for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Vadodara on 30 October. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Jyotiraditya M Scindia, and Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel are among those who will attend the function.
It may be recalled that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had on 8 September 2021 approved the procurement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space SA, Spain. On 24 September 2021, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract to acquire the plane with associated equipment.
Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said that as part of the contract, 16 aircraft would be delivered in flyaway condition, and 40 would be manufactured in India by the Indian aircraft contractor, Tata consortium of Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) led by TASL while addressing a press conference in the capital.
“The first 16 flyaway aircraft are scheduled to be received between September 2023 and August 2025. The first Made-in-India aircraft is expected in September 2026,” Kumar said.
The aircraft can operate from Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) and even unprepared runways, carrying around 40-45 paratroopers or about 70 passengers.
“This is the first time the C-295 aircraft will be manufactured outside Europe. This is very significant for the domestic aerospace sector,” he said.
It is also the first project in which a private company will manufacture a military aircraft in India. The total cost of the project is Rs 21,935 crore. The aircraft can be used for civilian purposes as well.
The C-295MW is a transport aircraft of 5–10-ton capacity with contemporary technology that will replace the ageing Avro aircraft of the IAF. It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping troops and cargo. Its abilities include short takeoff and landing from semi-prepared surfaces. The aircraft will strengthen the logistic capabilities of the IAF.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said all 56 aircraft would be fitted with the indigenous Electronic Warfare suite of Indian DPSUs, Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited.
“After completion of delivery of 56 aircraft to IAF, Airbus Defence & Space will be allowed to sell the aircraft manufactured in India to civil operators and export to countries which are cleared by the Government of India,” it stated.
The project, the Ministry said, offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter the technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry. It will augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and an expected increase in exports. Also, 96 per cent of the total man-hour work per aircraft that Airbus employs at its manufacturing facility in Spain will be undertaken in India by the Tata Consortium, it stated.
The TATA Consortium has identified more than 125 in-country MSME suppliers spread over seven states. This will act as a catalyst in employment generation in the country’s aerospace ecosystem and is expected to generate 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3,000 indirect jobs and an additional 3,000 medium-skill employment opportunities with more than 42.5 lakh man-hours of work within the aerospace and defence sector of India. Nearly 240 engineers will be trained at the Airbus facility in Spain.