On 8 September, the Cabinet Security Committee, headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the purchase of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft from Airbus Defense and Space for the Indian Air Force. With this approval, the project to purchase the C-295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force, which had been in the works since 2010 but had come to a halt owing to a cost issue, has been concluded.
According to the Indian Government’s Press Information Office (PIB), Airbus Defence and Space will supply 16 C-295MW aircraft within 48 months after signing the contract. The remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured locally in India by the TATA Consortium within ten years of the contract’s signing. For the first time in India, a private company will manufacture a military aircraft. According to the announcement, all 56 aircraft will be equipped with the domestic Electronic Warfare Package, and the initiative will benefit India’s aviation ecosystem by including various MSME’s from throughout the country in the production of aircraft components.
The TATA Consortium-led production program of the 40 aircraft, is expected to generate 600 high-skilled jobs, more than 3,000 indirect jobs, and 3,000 extra medium-skilled jobs in India, with the whole project expected to generate more than 4.25 million hours of labor in the aerospace and defense industry. Before the C-295MW aircraft are delivered, a ‘D’ level service facility (MRO) will be established in India. This facility is designed to serve as a regional MRO hub for numerous C-295 aircraft variants. The program’s entire cost is anticipated to be $2.5 billion. The project, according to the government, will help reduce defense import dependency while boosting exports.
The C-295MW is a transport aircraft developed by Airbus which will replace the IAF’s outdated Avro-748 aircraft. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G twin-turboprop engines with modern technology. The C295 has a top speed of 480 kilometers per hour. The maximum altitude is 7,620 meters during typical operations. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 23,200 kg and a range of 5,630 kilometers. The C295 has the longest barrier-free cabin in its class, measuring 12.7 meters in length. The plane can fly for up to 11 hours and can carry up to 71 soldiers or 50 paratroopers, and five pallets. The landing gear of this aircraft distinguishes it from the C-130J, C-17, and IL-76S aircraft in the IAF’s fleet, allowing it to take off and land on problematic and short airfields.
In addition, the Indian Air Force has restored eight advanced landing grounds to bolster military facilities along the Chinese border in recent years. The decision to reopen was made to secure its disputed 1,100 kilometer border with China and to improve its border infrastructure with Myanmar.
These Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) are located at a height of around 7,000 feet above mean sea level, distant from populated regions and with no major roads. The C-295 military transport plane is an ideal match for these ALGs. The reopening of these long-closed ALGs, as well as the purchase of 56 C-295 military transport aircraft, were significant steps in bolstering India’s military infrastructure along the Chinese border.