More C-295 transport aircraft orders will be placed for the IAF.

World News

Seville: The TATA Group plant in Hyderabad, along with European aviation giant Airbus, has started producing the C-295 transport planes that will replace the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) outdated Avro fleet.

The first batch of six pilots has also completed their training in Spain, and the IAF’s first group of aircraft engineers is currently undergoing training to maintain the planes that will be stationed at ten operating locations.

Additionally, the IAF and Airbus have signed a five-year Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) agreement that places a legal obligation on the latter to maintain an overall fleet availability of 85%. This means that at any given time, 85% of the fleet must be operationally prepared and not undergoing maintenance or waiting for replacement parts.

Officials from Airbus and TATA confirmed that they are in negotiations with the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard for the purchase of up to 15 additional aircraft, of which nine will be used for maritime surveillance. The IAF has ordered 56 C-295 aircraft, each of which is capable of transporting cargo weighing up to 9 tonnes.

However, insiders in the defence and security establishment informed ThePrint that in addition to one of the security agencies intending to employ the C-295 for technological surveillance, the BSF, which also runs the Avros, is considering purchasing aircraft.

Additionally, the TATA group could sell this aircraft to other nations.

“We need to construct 56 aeroplanes, 40 of which will be made in India. Let’s perform what we’ve been paid to do, is the first obvious response, according to Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus. He was responding to a question regarding the C-295 program’s potential expansion.

“Absolutely, we not only hope but also believe. It is a fantastic aeroplane for the nation. “Fifty-six is both a lot and not a lot,” he added. Dumont continued, “regional opportunities for the aircraft served from India” might exist.

Speaking on the C-295 aircraft’s ongoing development, Airbus representatives stated that the first aircraft will be delivered to the IAF in September of this year and the second aircraft is already on the final assembly line and will be delivered in May of the next year.

The first 16 aircraft would be delivered in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line here in Seville, Spain, in accordance with the Rs 21,000 crore contract with Airbus Defence and Space, Spain inked in September 2021. By September 2025, the delivery is expected to be finished.

As part of an industrial collaboration between the two businesses, TATA Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) in India will produce and assemble the remaining 40 aircraft.

The first aircraft produced in India will be delivered in 2026, followed by the delivery of the final 39 aircraft in 2031.

According to Jorge Tamarit, Head of Airbus’s C-295 India programme, “work on the Main Constituent Assembly (MCA) Line at the TASL facility in Hyderabad has begun this month.” The initial assembling of multiple elements is known as MCA. The first area to be worked on will be the back fuselage.

The majority of the work will be done in Hyderabad, and the TASL factory in Nagpur will produce the parts, but by the middle of next year, the final assembly line will be built up in Gujarat’s Vadodara. Gujarat will receive parts built in Hyderabad, such as the fuselage, and assemble them there.

Tamarit claimed that even though this fleet is used by 34 other nations, the IAF will be the largest operator in the world with 56 aircraft.

In any case, this will be the first time in history that an aircraft is made by a private enterprise in India. Tamarit addressed a limited group of reporters in this location, “We are building a full production system in India and this is a first for Airbus.” In some nations, Airbus does have a final assembly line or pre-assembly line, but not a complete production system, he continued.

Tamarit stated that roughly 90% of the technology transfer included in the partnership with TATA. From the 30th aircraft onward, the entire aircraft will be assembled in India in terms of labour hours. As a result, Airbus won’t work on the remainder of the deal outside of the nation.

According to Airbus representatives, the TATA group is indigenizing 14,000 parts of the aircraft at a rate of roughly 4,000 each year. The only components that won’t be locally produced are those that aren’t made by Airbus, such as the avionics, engine, and landing gear.

Additionally, Airbus is constructing a training facility for the IAF in Agra that will include simulators and be ready by the end of 2024. Uttar Pradesh will also hold a storehouse for the C-295 component parts. The UAE, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia are among the nations in the area that operate this aircraft, and India is in discussions with Airbus to establish an MRO facility for it.

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