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India to buy 56 Airbus C-295 tactical aircraft for $2.5 billion

Airbus C295 AEW - RIAT 2011. (Airwolfhound/Wikimedia Commons)
January 11, 2021

The Indian Air Force geared up for another much-anticipated deal with government in finalizing a large acquisition process with the European aerospace giant Airbus. As the aging Avro-748 medium turboprop airlifters near the end of their life service, the Indian Ministry of Defense will seal the contract this fiscal year with Airbus Group.

This deal will be India’s first-ever joint production between government and private players in making heavy medium transport aircraft on Indian soil. Airbus will join hands with Indian business giant TATA under Airbus Defense and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), a venture that will jointly execute the project to produce 56 C-295 Medium tactical airlifters for the Indian Air Force under the Make-in-India initiative.

According to the deal, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircrafts after sealing the contract while the another batch of 40 aircraft is assembled in India by TASL in one of the established TATA sites.

“The case is first of its kind which envisages participation of private companies and would prove to be a boost for our defense industry,” the ministry said, according to Hindustan Times.

The acquisition of 56 C-295s from Airbus comes after the government’s decision to have them produced in India in conjunction with an Indian private vendor for the manufacturing of at least 40 aircraft. Those 40 aircrafts are at the financial clearance stage, with the deal likely to be signed in the near future, the defense ministry said in its year-end review.

These planes will replace six-decade-old Avro 748, which served IAF for a number of tactical airlifting operations to supply troops in strategic locations throughout history during wars and conflict.

With the airframe becoming obsolete and a high likelihood of getting them to phase out as early, it will benefit IAF when C-295 replaces them. These aircraft will complement the currently-serving C-130J Super Hercules in IAF, as both types are designed to do similar roles.

C-295 is a twin-turboprop tactical medium airlifter, designed by EDAS CASA and manufactured by Airbus Defense. Able to carry 73 troops and a 9 ton payload, the aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127Gs. With cruise speed of 485 kmph, the aircraft has flying range of 1,500 km to 4,500 km, depending upon the load. It also has a service ceiling of 4,000 meters and a source ceiling of 9,000 meters above sea-level.