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Airbus Offers A400M For Indian Air Force's Medium Transport Aircraft

Swarajya News Staff

Jul 23, 2023, 12:04 PM | Updated 12:04 PM IST

Airbus A400M (Photo: Airbus Defence and Space SAU 2023 Adrian Molinos - Mango Producciones)
Airbus A400M (Photo: Airbus Defence and Space SAU 2023 Adrian Molinos - Mango Producciones)

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has submitted its A400M transport aircraft as a potential option for the Indian Air Force's Request For Information (RFI) for a Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) with a carrying capacity of 18 to 30 tonnes.

The RFI, issued in December 2022, has a submission deadline of 31 March and includes two other contenders, the Lockheed Martin C-130 and Embraer C-390. The MTA could potentially replace the smaller AN-32s and even the larger IL-76 currently in service.

Jean-Brice Dumont, the head of Military Air Systems at Airbus, confirmed that they have responded to the RFI and offered the A400, as reported by The Hindu. He said the A400 has the advantage of carrying twice the payload over twice the range compared to its competitors.

Venkat Katkuri, the head of Airbus Defence and Space in India, mentioned that the RFI stage is ongoing, and they have expressed their interest to the Indian Air Force, The Hindu report said.

When asked about the possibility of incorporating a 'Make in India' component, similar to the C-295 transport aircraft, Katkuri stated that they are open to the idea and willing to industrialise the A400 if the numbers make it viable.

According to the RFI, the aim is to begin delivering the selected platform within 36 months of contract signing. The specific number of MTAs required is not specified in the RFI, but vendors have been asked to provide a 'Rough Order of Magnitude cost of aircraft and associated equipment' for batches of 40, 60, and 80 aircraft, respectively.

Airbus is offering the A400M as a replacement for older aircraft such as the C-160, C-130, and IL-76. With a maximum payload of 37 tonnes, it has received 178 orders from 10 countries, with more orders expected by 2030.

The A400M is seen as a game-changer for the IAF, capable of carrying heavy loads over long distances and reaching altitudes of up to 40,000 feet.

According to Roberto Martinez, Airbus' A400M marketing manager, the A400M has the ability to deliver mission-critical equipment to short and unpaved airstrips where other aircraft like the IL-76 and C-17 cannot operate.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) currently operates around 100 AN-32s, which are considered the workhorses of the force. These aircraft have undergone upgrades as part of a $400-million deal signed with Ukraine in 2009.

The IAF's transport fleet includes a variety of aircraft. These include the AN-32s and Avro aircraft, as well as heavy transport aircraft like the IL-76 and mi-air refuelling tankers like the IL-78, which are all from Russia.

In addition, the fleet also consists of 12 C-130J Super Hercules and 11 C-17 Globemaster strategic airlift aircraft, which are from the United States.

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