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India firms up order for 56 C295 airlifters

Indian Air Force C295
Photo: Airbus

After approving the purchase of 56 C295 airlifter earlier this month, India formalized the acquisition of the AVRO successor with Airbus.

Under the contractual agreement, which was signed on September 24, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain.

The subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.

According to reports, the contract for the 56 airframes is worth around $2.5 billion. A subsequent contract for performance-based life cycle support that is to be signed with TASL has an estimated value of $500 million.

This is the first ‘Make in India’ aerospace program in the private sector, involving the full development of a complete industrial ecosystem: from the manufacture to assembly, test and qualification, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft.

The first 16 aircraft will be delivered over four years after the contract implementation. All the Indian Air Force (IAF) C295s will be handed over in transport configuration and equipped with an indigenous electronic warfare suite.

“This is a moment of pride for Tatas and a milestone for the Indian military manufacturing ecosystem. For the first time, an Indian private company will be wholly manufacturing an aircraft in India,” Sukaran Singh, managing director and chief executive officer, Tata Advanced Systems Limited, said.

“This contract will support the further development of India’s aerospace ecosystem, bringing investment and 15,000 skilled direct jobs and 10,000 indirect positions over the coming 10 years,” said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.

The IAF becomes the 35th C295 operator worldwide, with the program reaching 278 aircraft, 200 of which are already in operation and have booked more than half a million flight-hours.

C295 is used for tactical transport of up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers, and for logistic operations to locations that are not accessible to current heavier aircraft. It can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation (medevac), as demonstrated during the COVID-19 crisis, using either basic litters or mobile intensive care units (ICU) with life support equipment. The aircraft can perform special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties.