In a significant milestone for India's defence sector, the country is set to witness the first 'Made in India' C-295 aircraft joining the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet in 2026. The final assembly line for this indigenous cargo plane is currently under construction in Vadodara, Gujarat, and is expected to be operational by mid-2024. The ambitious project is a collaborative effort between Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. and French company Airbus, aimed at bolstering India's self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
Vadodara: The Hub of Indigenous Aircraft Production
The Vadodara plant, a private factory established by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. in collaboration with Airbus, will serve as the manufacturing hub for the C-295 aircraft. The facility is slated to produce 40 aircraft by 2031, which will be delivered to the Indian Air Force. The project is supported by a substantial investment of 2.8 billion USD (approximately 21 thousand crore rupees) from the Indian government, highlighting the significance of the initiative in bolstering the country's defence capabilities.
Technological Collaboration and Localization Efforts
As part of the agreement with Airbus, India will have access to 90% of the technology related to the C-295 aircraft. This transfer of technology will enable the country to develop a comprehensive industrial ecosystem for the production, assembly, and testing of these advanced aircraft. Moreover, the maintenance of the aircraft will also be carried out at the Vadodara facility, further enhancing India's capabilities in this domain.
Upcoming Deployment and Training Facility
The first C-295 aircraft is scheduled to be received by India in September, marking a momentous occasion for the nation's defence industry. The aircraft is being manufactured at the Seville plant in Spain, and India is set to receive 16 aircraft directly from Spain on a ready-to-fly basis by 2025. Following this, the remaining 40 aircraft will be produced indigenously in Vadodara.
The initial deployment of the C-295 aircraft will take place at the Agra airbase, where a state-of-the-art training facility equipped with simulators will be developed. This facility will ensure that the pilots and engineers receive comprehensive training to operate and maintain the aircraft effectively.
Expanding the Reach: Prospects for Navy and Coast Guard
Apart from the Indian Air Force, there are ongoing talks between Airbus and the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for a potential deal to acquire 15 additional C-295 aircraft. The Navy is likely to procure 9 to 10 aircraft for maritime surveillance and patrolling, while the Coast Guard is interested in deploying 6 aircraft for their operations.
Versatility in Defence Operations
The C-295 aircraft offers a wide range of applications in defence operations, making it an attractive option for various security agencies. The Border Security Force (BSF), the first line of defense monitoring India's borders, has expressed interest in procuring these aircraft. Additionally, several other security agencies are considering the C-295 for surveillance purposes.
The upcoming induction of the first 'Made in India' C-295 aircraft into the Indian Air Force is a significant step towards enhancing the country's self-reliance in defence manufacturing. The collaboration between Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. and Airbus, along with the transfer of critical technology, will bolster India's capabilities in aircraft production, assembly, and maintenance. With the potential expansion of the fleet to include the Navy and Coast Guard, the C-295 aircraft promises to play a pivotal role in India's defence operations, safeguarding the nation's skies and borders.