The Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, took delivery of the first Airbus C-295 transport aircraft today (13th September) from the Airbus factory in Seville, Spain.
In September 2021, India signed a deal with Airbus to procure 56 C-295M transport aircraft, valued at $2.5 billion.
These 56 aircraft are intended to replace the aging Avro HS748 transport aircraft currently in the IAF's fleet. Of the 56 C-295s, the initial batch of 16 will be constructed by Airbus Defence and Space at its facility in Seville.
The remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured at the new Tata-Airbus facility in Vadodara. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of this facility in Vadodara in October 2022.
The C-295 is capable of carrying 6 tonnes of payload in five cargo pallets, 71 troops, or a maximum of 50 paratroopers.
This 24.46-metre-long aircraft can take off and land on short and unprepared airstrips that are not accessible to heavier transport aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster-III or IL-76.
This capability allows the aircraft to supply troops in remote areas near the India-China border, landing on advanced landing grounds (ALGs) such as Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in the Depsang Plains.
The second C-295 is in advanced stages of assembly and will be delivered to the IAF by May 2024, with the remaining 14 flyaway airframes to be delivered by August 2025.
Apart from the initial 16, the remaining 40 aircraft are scheduled for delivery by August 2031.
Production of the first 'Made-in-India' airframe began on 19 July at the Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) facility in Hyderabad.
After manufacturing various components, the sub-components will be shipped to Tata's Vadodara facility, where all parts and sub-components will be assembled into a complete aircraft.
Pilot training will be conducted at an airbase in Agra, with the plant having been inaugurated in March this year.
A batch of IAF pilots has already completed training in Spain, and another batch is currently in Spain for further training.
The Prayagraj-based 24 Equipment Depot will serve as a central warehouse for housing spare parts and components for the C-295s.
The TASL facility in Hyderabad, which will initially assemble sub-systems manufactured at Airbus's facility in Spain, will gradually transition to manufacturing them in India, serving as the primary sub-system manufacturing plant.
According to Airbus India head Jorge Tamarit, India will be able to independently build the C-295 aircraft by the 30th airframe, without any Airbus assistance.
Discussions are also underway for the establishment of a maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility for C-295 aircraft in India.
This facility would not only support the IAF's C-295s but also cater to the needs of other South Asian and Middle-Eastern users of C-295 aircraft, including the UAE, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Indonesia.
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