New Delhi: In a formal ceremony at the Hindon Air Force Station on September 25, the first C-295MW transport aircraft was inducted into service. With this, the Indian Air Force (IAF) formally began phasing out its legacy HS-748 Avro transport aircraft from service. The first aircraft was inducted into the No. 11 Squadron, ‘The Rhinos’, based in Vadodara.
“This medium lift tactical aircraft is capable of taking off and landing from unprepared landing grounds and it will replace the HS-748 Avro aircraft. The induction of C-295 will bolster medium lift tactical capability of the IAF. The Defence and Aerospace sectors are the two important pillars for making India self-reliant in coming years,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on social media after the event. He along with IAF Air Chief Marshal (ACM) V. R. Chaudhari attended the ‘Sarv Dharm Puja’ induction ceremony.
Two weeks ago, the aircraft was formally received by IAF Air Chief Chaudhari at the Airbus facility at Seville in Spain. Following this, the aircraft was flown to India by a joint IAF-Airbus crew last week.
The Defence Ministry signed a Rs 22,000 crore deal with Airbus and Space S.A., Spain in September 2021, for procurement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft to replace the Avro aircraft in service with the IAF. The first 16 C295s of the 56 aircraft on order will be assembled at the San Pablo Sur site in Seville, with the second aircraft due to be delivered in May 2024, and the next 14 rolled out at a rate of one per month until August 2025, Airbus said. The remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured by Airbus jointly with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL). Work is underway for setting up the final assembly line (FAL) at Vadodara in Gujarat, and the first aircraft manufactured in India would be delivered in September 2026, according to reports.
The C-295 aircraft will be equipped with indigenous electronic warfare systems and rear ramp doors for quick-reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo. India will join a select group of countries with the capability to produce the C-295, including the US, UK, Russia, France, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Brazil, China, and Japan once it begins manufacturing these planes.
According to Airbus, production of components for the aircraft to be manufactured in India has already commenced in the main constituent assembly facility in Hyderabad, and these parts will be shipped to the Vadodara final assembly line, which is scheduled to become operational by November 2024. The 56th and final aircraft is expected to be delivered to the IAF by August 2031. The C-295, with a carrying capacity of nine tonnes, can transport up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers, airdrop cargo, be deployed for medical evacuation, and take off and land in short and unpaved runways.