The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to receive its first C295 tactical lift aircraft, after its successful maiden test flight in Seville, Spain. The test flight, which lasted for three hours, aimed to verify the various onboard systems of the aircraft. With the successful completion of the flight test, the first C295 aircraft is expected to be delivered to the IAF by September 2022. The first 16 aircraft are being manufactured in Spain, while the remaining 40 will be produced in Gujarat by Tata Advanced Systems Limited in collaboration with Airbus.
According to Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, “This first flight represents a significant accomplishment for the first Make in India aerospace programme. With the Indian Air Force set to become the largest operator of the C295 in the world, this programme exemplifies our commitment to improve the Indian Air Force’s operational capabilities.” Indian air force crews are already being trained in Spain to operate the new aircraft.
The establishment of a military transport aircraft manufacturing facility was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Vadodara in October 2021. During the laying of the foundation stone, Modi highlighted India’s potential to become a major manufacturer of transport and commercial aircraft in the future, catering not just to domestic requirements, but also to the global market. Tata will set up the main manufacturing facility in Vadodara and an aerospace and defence complex at Dholera.
The collaboration between Tata and Airbus has resulted in the creation of India’s first private sector aircraft manufacturing facility. While smaller aircraft have been made in India in the past, the projects were executed by public sector enterprises, primarily by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Airbus had won a Rs 21,935 crore contract to supply 56 transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force in 2021, and the C295 tactical lift aircraft is one of them.
Tata Advanced Systems Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Sons, has been actively collaborating with Airbus to manufacture the C295 aircraft in India. The joint venture is aimed at not only fulfilling India's domestic requirements for transport and commercial aircraft but also catering to the global market. The C295 is a versatile transport aircraft that can be configured for various roles such as troop and cargo transport, medical evacuation, paratrooping, and maritime patrol.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been actively looking to modernize its fleet of transport aircraft and helicopters to enhance its operational capabilities. The induction of the C295 aircraft will provide a significant boost to the IAF's tactical airlift capability. The aircraft is expected to replace the aging Avro HS 748 transport aircraft, which have been in service for over five decades.
The C295 is equipped with modern avionics, a digital cockpit, and a state-of-the-art self-protection suite, making it an ideal platform for various military missions. The aircraft has a maximum payload capacity of 9,250 kg and a range of over 5,000 km, making it suitable for operations in remote and difficult terrains.
The Make in India initiative has been a cornerstone of the Indian government's efforts to boost indigenous manufacturing and generate employment. The C295 manufacturing facility in Gujarat is a significant step towards achieving this goal. The facility is expected to generate over 1,000 direct and 4,000 indirect jobs, providing a much-needed impetus to the local economy.
The joint venture between Tata and Airbus is also expected to boost the overall aerospace and defense manufacturing ecosystem in India. The development of a robust domestic manufacturing base is critical for the country to become self-reliant in defense production and reduce its dependence on imports.
In conclusion, the successful test flight of the first C295 aircraft made for the Indian Air Force marks a significant milestone in the Make in India initiative. The induction of the aircraft is expected to provide a significant boost to the IAF's operational capabilities and enhance its tactical airlift capability. The establishment of the manufacturing facility in Gujarat is also expected to generate significant employment and contribute to the overall growth of the aerospace and defense industry in India.