Airbus to Deliver First C-295 Aircraft on September 13 to IAF

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New Delhi: Airbus Defence and Space will deliver the first C-295 transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Seville in Spain on September 13. It is expected that IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari will attend the ceremony, according to a media report.

This aircraft will be the first of the 56 C-295 planes ordered by IAF under a Rs 21,935-crore project to modernise its transport fleet. The defence ministry signed a contract with Airbus for 56 planes to boost self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector. Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Airbus are jointly executing the programme. The European plane maker will deliver the first 16 planes in flyaway condition, while the rest will be assembled in India at a Tata facility in Gujarat’s Vadodara.

According to officials, IAF’s second C-295 is in final assembly at Airbus’s Seville facility and will be delivered in May 2024. The last of the 16 flyaway aircraft will be delivered to IAF by August 2025, while the first “made in India” C-295 will roll out of the Vadodara facility in September 2026 and the remaining 39 by August 2031.

IAF will be the world’s largest operator of the C-295. The aircraft was ordered as a replacement for the IAF’s fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered service in the early 1960s.

Adding further the officials said that the final assembly of the C-295 in India will involve a raft of key processes and works in predefined sequence before the fully recognisable military aircraft rolls out of the facility. Being built on the lines of the Seville facility, the final assembly line in Vadodara will be operational in November 2024.

The assembly will involve the integration of several main components including the nose, fuselage, wings and the tail unit, and a series of key tests, the officials said. The parts that will go into building the full aircraft will be transported to Vadodara from the main constituent assembly for the C-295 set up by Tata at Hyderabad. The facility at Hyderabad became functional in July-end, and domestic production of the parts is already underway in the run-up to the production of the aircraft in Vadodara.

The foundation stone of the Vadodara manufacturing facility was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2022. The C-295 will be the first military aircraft to be manufactured in India by a private consortium.

The final assembly in Vadodara will involve the integration of the power plant, propellers, flight controls, beam structure and cargo launching system; work related to electrical harnesses, antennas, fairings, rigging, doors, windows, and air conditioning; impermeability tests; several functional tests; and painting of the aircraft. A comprehensive final inspection and several flight tests will be carried out before the planes are delivered to IAF.

The first plane will be flown to India by a four-man IAF crew, including the two pilots, and supported by an Airbus pilot and a flight engineer. Six IAF pilots and 20 technicians have thus far been trained at the Seville facility. Another 18 pilots and 60 technicians will be trained at Seville next year.

The manufacturing of more than 13,000 parts, 4,600 subassemblies and all major component assemblies will be carried out in the country, as part of the C-295 India project. To be sure, equipment such as engines, landing gear and avionics will be provided by Airbus, and integrated on the aircraft. The tactical airlifter is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW127G turboprop engines. The final assembly line in Vadodara (the first one outside Spain) will have a capacity for 12 aircraft per year. All 56 aircraft will be fitted with an indigenous electronic warfare suite developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited. While BEL has supplied the radar warning receiver and the missile approach warning system, BDL has provided the countermeasure dispensing system.

The C-295 aircraft contract covers performance-based logistics support for five years, supply of spares across 10 operating bases for 10 years, ground support and test equipment, and training, the officials said. The C-295 can carry up to nine tonnes of payload or 71 personnel or 45 paratroopers and has a maximum speed of 480 kmph. It can also operate from short or unprepared airstrips, and has a rear ramp for para dropping troops and cargo.