India's first C-295 aircraft has rolled out of the Airbus defence production facility in the city of Seville, located in southern Spain.
Images and videos of the military aircraft emerging from the Airbus Defence and Space's San Pablo site, which is home to the military transport activities and the Final Assembly Line (FAL) for the four-engine turboprop-powered A400M airlifter and twin-turboprop C295, have now gone viral on social media.
The plane is the first of the 16 medium-lift tactical transport airport aircraft which will be delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in flyaway condition.
It was in September 2021 that the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the procurement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft from Airbus Defence following which the Ministry of Defence signed a contract for the acquisition of the aircraft with associated equipment.
The induction of the aircraft that will replace the ageing Avro aircraft of IAF has been seen as another step towards the modernisation of the country's air force.
A year later, Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems entered a collaboration for the manufacturing and assembly of the C-295 aircraft for the IAF.
Under the agreement, Tata Advanced Systems was selected as the Indian Production Agency (IPA) by Airbus. It will not only produce 40 fly-away C-295 aircraft from its facilities but will also subsequently provide MRO support and service for the total 56 aircraft that will be procured by IAF.
In October 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the transport aircraft manufacturing project in Gujarat's Vadodara, giving a major boost to the 'Make in India' initiative and domestic aviation manufacturing.
The Rs 21,935 crore project, the first-of-its-kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company, involves 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 fly-away aircraft are scheduled to be received between September 2023 and August 2025 while the first 'Made in India' aircraft is expected from September 2026.
C-295MW, a transport aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity with contemporary technology, is expected to strengthen the logistic capabilities of the IAF. It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo. Short take-off/land from semi-prepared surfaces is another of its features. The aircraft can be used for civilian purposes as well.
The Defence Ministry has stated that the project offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into the technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry. It will augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and an expected increase in exports.
Manufacturing of over 13,400 detail parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all the seven major component assemblies will be undertaken in India, along with tools, jigs and testers. Also, 96 per cent of the total man-hour work per aircraft that Airbus employs at its manufacturing facility in Spain will be undertaken in India by the Tata Consortium.
Various systems such as engines, landing gear, avionics, EW suite among others, will be provided by Airbus Defence & Space and integrated into the aircraft by the Tata Consortium.
All 56 aircraft will also be fitted with the indigenous electronic warfare suite of Indian DPSUs - Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited.
After the completion of the delivery of 56 aircraft to IAF, Airbus will be allowed to sell the aircraft manufactured in India to civil operators and export to countries which are cleared by the Indian government.