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India's First Private Sector Aircraft Manufacturing Facility To Be Set Up at Vadodara
Vadodara trumps Dholera as choice of location for landmark programme to make Airbus C-295 military transport aircraft; Prime Minister Modi to lay foundation stone for Rs 22,000 Crore project on October 30
Photo Credit : Airbus
File photo of the Airbus C-295MW military transport aircraft
India’s first full-spectrum aircraft manufacturing facility in the private sector will be set up at Vadodara in Gujarat by a Tata consortium to manufacture the Airbus C-295MW military transport aircraft, India’s Ministry of Defence announced on October 27.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of this project on October 30, ahead of elections in his home state of Gujarat. The launch of this project comes close on the heels of India’s largest Defence trade show, Defexpo, being held in Gujarat last week.
In collaboration with Airbus, the Tata consortium comprising Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) led by TASL will produce 40 of the 56 C-295MW military transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) under a Rs 21,935 Crore deal signed with Airbus Defence and Space S.A., Spain, in September 2021. Sixteen aircraft will be imported in a fly-away condition from Airbus’ Spain facility under the IAF’s Avro replacement programme.
BW Businessworld was the first to report that the landmark aircraft assembly line will be set up in Gujarat. Decision-makers at the highest level were reportedly keen on Dholera as the location but ultimately settled for Vadodara taking into account feedback from Airbus and Tata.
“Dholera was not yet ready to host an aircraft manufacturing eco-system and Airbus was under contractual obligation to begin delivering the Made in India aircraft by 2026. The choice of Dholera would have delayed the project by a few years,” sources explained to BW Businessworld.
“The first 16 fly-away aircraft are scheduled to be received between September 2023 and August 2025. The first Made in India aircraft is expected from September 2026,” the Ministry of Defence announced in a statement.
The C-295MW is a transport aircraft of 5-10-ton capacity with contemporary technology. It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo. It is capable of short take-off and landing from semi-prepared surfaces. The aircraft will strengthen the logistic capabilities of the IAF.
“We’re very confident that the Tata Airbus consortium will be able to manufacture even larger transport aircraft in the future,” Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said while making the announcement, according to agencies.
Vice-Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sandeep Singh said a decision on the replacement of the Soviet-origin Antonov 32 - for decades the workhorse of the IAF’s transport fleet - will be taken after five years, looking over the horizon for possible future orders for the Vadodara aircraft assembly line.
“The C-295 surpasses performance of the Avro as well as the AN-32. It has larger capacity and is very fuel efficient as well,” Air Marshal Singh said.
“After completion of delivery of 56 aircraft to IAF, M/s Airbus Defence & Space will be allowed to sell the aircraft manufactured in India to civil operators and export to countries which are cleared by the Government of India,” it was stated.
The Ministry of Defence stated that 96 per cent of the total man hours for manufacturing the aircraft will be employed at the Vadaodara facility. All seven major component assemblies, and manufacture of over 13,400 parts and 4,600 sub-assemblies will be done in India. The aircraft will be assembled, integrated and tested by the Tata Consortium.
“The aircraft will be flight tested and delivered through a Delivery Centre at the TATA Consortium facility,” the Ministry of Defence stated.
“Various systems such as engines, landing gear, avionics, EW suite etc. will be provided by Airbus Defence & Space and integrated on the aircraft by the TATA Consortium,” it was elaborated.
“All 56 aircraft will be fitted with indigenous Electronic Warfare suite of Indian DPSUs – Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited,” it added.
“The TATA Consortium has identified more than 125 in-country MSME suppliers spread over seven states. This will act as a catalyst in employment generation in the aerospace ecosystem of the country and is expected to generate 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3,000 indirect jobs and an additional 3,000 medium skill employment opportunities with more than 42.5 lakh man hours of work within the aerospace and defence sector of India. Nearly 240 engineers will be trained at Airbus facility in Spain,” the statement added.