With contract for the light combat aircraft signed–the largest military order placed domestically–focus has shifted to a mega-deal which, if approved by the PM-led cabinet committee on security (CCS), will see military transport aircraft being manufactured in India.
High on the priority list of Indian Air Force is finalisation of an estimated Rs 15,000-crore contract to manufacture the C 295 transport aircraft in India by a Tata-Airbus combine, which would make it the first time a military plane of such size is built domestically.
People aware of the matter told ET that the plan to acquire 56 aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet is in the final stage, with top-level approvals expected soon to move it to the next stage as a showcase of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Unlike the RS 48,000-crore LCA Mk1A contract, which was awarded on a nomination basis, the transport aircraft deal underwent a competitive process and was reserved for the private sector to bring in alternative capabilities.
The C 295 is a prominent focus at the AeroIndia show, with foreign collaborator Airbus – which is committed to transferring technology to India as part of the contract – saying the final assembly line would generate at least 2,500 new high-skilled jobs in the coming years.
“The Avro replacement campaign could be a game-changer, as the first tangible ‘Make in India’ aircraft manufacturing programme by a private industry player. We propose to work with the Tata Group to build a cutting-edge C295 Final Assembly Line that will be fed by an ecosystem of local suppliers, including MSMEs,” Rémi Maillard, president, Airbus India & South Asia.
The order size could go up with potential orders by the coast guard and navy.
Industry sources said that plans are also in place to offer the aircraft for exports in the region and in different, specialised configurations to the Indian forces as well.
“It is a very deep Make in India project, where at one end aluminium blocks will literally be imported and at the other end a flying aircraft would emerge from the final assembly line,” one of the sources said.
Besides the Tata Group, the project is expected to give significant orders to at least three dozen sub-suppliers who have been roped in to manufacture a range of parts for the aircraft. This ecosystem will also be vital for the maintenance and sustenance of the fleet, which is expected to be in service for at least three decades.