Seville: Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Wednesday received the first of the 56 C295 transport aircraft two years after India sealed a Rs 21,935-crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure the jets to replace its ageing Avro–748 fleet.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari, receiving the aircraft at the aerospace major’s production facility in the southern Spanish city of Seville, described it as a ”momentous day” for the IAF and India as 40 C-295 out of the total fleet will be manufactured in Vadodara.
”It is a momentous day for us, for the Indian Air Force in particular, and a nation as a whole to receive the first aircraft which marks the beginning of a new era, wherein we will be manufacturing 40 of these aircraft in India,” he said.
Under the deal, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville by 2025 and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.
”It gives a tremendous boost to the capability of moving our forces to the frontline when required,” Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said.
The Chief of Air Staff also took a sortie on the new aircraft. The C295, in transport configuration and with an indigenous electronic warfare suite, will leave Airbus’ production site in Seville for Delhi on September 15 September. It will be piloted by a joint IAF-Airbus crew.
”While the first aircraft was rolled out from Spain, the 17th aircraft will be assembled at the final assembly line in Baroda in 2026. It will mark a historic moment as the first time a military transport aircraft will be fully manufactured in India,” Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari told PTI.
Indian Ambassador to Spain Dinesh Patnaik said the aircraft was handed over to IAF by Airbus 10 days ahead of its schedule delivery.
Patnaik told PTI that the C295 project will significantly enhance India-Spain bilateral relations, especially the economic engagement.
”The project makes a lot of difference to the overall relations between the two countries,” he said.
The first ‘Make in India’ C295 will roll out of the Vadodara final assembly line in September 2026 in what will be a milestone for the Indian aerospace industry. The final aircraft is expected to be delivered to the IAF by August 2031.
”It was only two years ago that we signed this contract with India, the largest order in the history of the C295,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, Airbus’ Head of Military Air Systems.
”Today, we are enhancing the capabilities of the Indian Air Force and modernising its transport fleet by delivering the first aircraft on schedule. This is the beginning of an exciting and long-term journey with the Indian Air Force,” he said.
The production of components of these aircraft has already started in the Main Constituent Assembly (MCA) facility in Hyderabad, southern India. These parts will be shipped to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Vadodara which is expected to be operational by November 2024.
In October last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the manufacturing facility for C295 planes in Vadodara. It will be the first military aircraft to be manufactured in India by a private consortium.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is procuring the C295 aircraft to replace its fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered the service over six decades back.
The global C295 programme comprises a total of 280 orders from 39 operators, making it an unmatched aircraft in its weight and mission class, the plane maker said.
The C295 is known to be a superior aircraft 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.
The aircraft can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation.
The aircraft is capable of performing special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties.
After the mega deal was finalised last year, Airbus said the C295 programme will see the company bring its complete bouquet of world-class aircraft manufacturing and servicing to India in collaboration with its industrial partners.
In May, the first C295 aircraft built for India successfully completed its maiden flight in Seville. The second one is in the final assembly at the Seville facility and is scheduled to be delivered to the IAF in May next year.
Six pilots from the IAF and 20 technicians have already undergone extensive training at the Seville facility.
Officials said the IAF will be the world’s largest operator of the C295.