C295 Avro-Replacement Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA)
In October 2014 Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) submitted a joint bid, estimated by analysts to be worth at least $2 billion, to replace the Indian Air Force´s fleet of Avro aircraft with the Airbus C295 medium transport. The teaming followed a detailed industrial assessment and evaluation of the Indian private aerospace sector by Airbus Defence and Space, which concluded with the selection of Tata Advanced Systems as the Indian Production Agency (IPA) exclusive partner. A total of 56 Avro aircraft were to be replaced. Airbus Defence and Space would supply the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its own final assembly line. The subsequent 40 aircraft would be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems in India.
The clearance for the project was withheld due to this being the sole bidder for the replacement project. In case of a sole bidder, only the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has the authority to clear it. On 13 May 2015 the government cleared the lone bid of Airbus-TATA consortium for replacing Indian Air Force’s fleet of ageing Avro transport aircraft for Rs 11,930 crore, besides approving Russia’s offer to build Kamov Ka-226T helicopters under ‘Make in India’ initiative.
In 2019 Airbus officials were optimistic in the deal to supply 56 C295 transport variant to the Indian Air Force. The Indian Coast Guard is also buying six maritime patrol variants of the C295. The two companies plan to build the first 16 aircraft at an Airbus facility in Spain and the remainder would be built by Tata Advanced Systems Limited near Bengaluru. However, progress in the deal was slow.
Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence & Space, said he believed the Indian Air Force's requirement for the C295 could grow to “at least 150 [aircraft] and beyond". Hoke also foresaw the possibility of exports of the C295 from India, calling it a "real Make-in-India" project. Despite pressure from the IAF that urgently needs the transport platforms, by mid-2021 the deal remained in limbo.
India formalised the acquisition of 56 Airbus C295 aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force (IAF) legacy AVRO fleet on 24 September 2021. It was the first ‘Make in India’ aerospace program in the private sector, involving the full development of a complete industrial ecosystem: from the manufacture to assembly, test and qualification, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft. Cabinet Committee on Security approved the procurement of fifty six C-295MW transport aircraft from M/s Airbus Defence and Space S.A., Spain for the Indian Air Force. C-295MW aircraft is a transport aircraft of 5-10 Tonne capacity with contemporary technology that will replace the ageing Avro aircraft of IAF. The aircraft has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para dropping of troops and cargo.
Sixteen aircraft would be delivered in flyaway condition from Spain within 48 months of signing of the contract and forty aircraft would be manufactured in India by TATA Consortium within ten years of signing of the contract. This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft would be manufactured in India by a private company. All fifty six aircraft would be installed with indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite. The project would give a boost to aerospace ecosystem in India wherein several MSMEs spread over the country would be involved in manufacturing of parts of the aircraft.
The program would provide major boost to the `Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of the Government as it offers a unique opportunity for the Indian Private Sector to enter into technology intensive and highly competitive aviation Industry. The project would augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and expected increase in exports.
A large number of detail parts, sub-assemblies and major component assemblies of aero structure are scheduled to be manufactured in India. The program would act as a catalyst in employment generation in the aerospace ecosystem of the country and is expected to generate 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3000 indirect jobs and an additional 3000 medium skill employment opportunities with more than 42.5 lakh man hours of work within the aerospace and defence sector of India. It would involve development of specialized infrastructure in form of hangars, buildings, aprons and taxiway. During the process of manufacturing in India, it is expected that all the suppliers of TATA Consortium who would be involved in special processes would gain and maintain globally recognized National Aerospace and Defence Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) accreditation.
Before completion of deliveries, ‘D’ Level servicing facility (MRO) for C-295MW aircraft are scheduled to be setup in India. It is expected that this facility would act as a regional MRO hub for various variants of C-295 aircraft. In addition, the OEM would also discharge its offset obligations through direct purchase of eligible products and Services from Indian Offset Partners giving further boost to economy.
This program is a unique initiative of Government of India to strengthen indigenous capabilities and boost ‘Make in India’. The IAF became the 35th C295 operator worldwide, with the program reaching 278 aircraft, 200 of which are already in operation and have booked more than half a million flight-hours.
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