The Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive its first C-295 transport aircraft on Wednesday (13 September).
In September 2021, India inked a deal with Airbus to procure 56 C-295M transport aircraft, worth $2.5 billion. These 56 aircraft are slated to replace the aging Avro HS748 transport aircraft currently in the IAF's fleet.
Of the 56 C-295s, initial batch of 16 will be built by Airbus Defence and Space at its facility in Seville, southern Spain, and will be delivered within 48 months of signing the contract.
The remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured at the new Tata-Airbus facility at Vadodara. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of this facility at Vadodara in October 2022.
The IAF chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari will also visit Spain to receive the first C-295. Following this, the aircraft will fly to India and will be formally inducted in the IAF by the last week of September.
It's worth noting that ACM Chaudhari played a pivotal role in the contract negotiations during his tenure as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff.
Meanwhile, the production of the first C-295 began in July at Tata's Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) factory in Hyderabad.
It is expected that the first Indian-made C-295 will be delivered by the end of 2026 and the remaining 39 by 2031.
Airbus head of C-295 programme in India Jorge Tamarit says that India will be able to build the C-295 aircraft entirely on its own without any Airbus assistance, by the 30th airframe.
Discussions are also underway for the establishment of a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility for C-295 aircraft, in India.
This facility would serve not only 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.
The C-295 is a tactical transport aircraft capable of lifting 6 tonnes — it can carry five cargo pallets or 71 troops or 50 paratroopers. The rear ramp door of the aircraft can be used for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo.
The aircraft can land on and take off from short, unprepared airstrips not accessible to heavier transport aircraft, a feature which will allow the aircraft to land and take off from the advanced landing grounds along the India-China border.
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