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A special day for IAF as India gets its first C295 from Airbus in Spain

IAF's first C295 aircraft in Spain's Seville (Image courtesy: Airbus Defence)

The first of 56 C295 aircraft was handed over by Airbus Defence and Space in fly-away condition to the Indian Air Force in the presence of IAF Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari at the company’s production site in Spain’s Seville on Wednesday.

The C295, in transport configuration and with an indigenous electronic warfare suite, will leave Seville for Delhi in the next few days, piloted by a joint IAF-Airbus crew to join one of the strongest and largest operational air force around the world.

The plane is the first of the 16 medium–lift tactical transport aircraft which will be assembled at the Airbus’ San Pablo Sur site in Seville and delivered to the IAF in flyaway condition.

The second aircraft is due to be delivered in May 2024 and the next 14 rolled out at a rate of one per month until August 2025.

Giving a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and domestic aviation manufacturing, the remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) at the transport aircraft manufacturing project inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat’s Vadodara last year.

“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, during the delivery ceremony.

“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 added.

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 Vadovara FAL, which is expected to be operational by November 2024.

Airbus Indian Air Force
The first ‘Made in India’ C295 is expected in September 2026 (Image courtesy: @AirbusPRESS)

The first ‘Make in India’ C295 will roll out of the Vadodara FAL in September 2026 in what will be a milestone for the Indian aerospace industry; the final aircraft expected to be delivered to the IAF by August 2031.

With 283 orders from 41 operators, the C295 is the undisputed leader in its segment and stands out for its versatility. It can carry up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers, airdrop cargo, be used for medical evacuation and take off and land in short and unpaved runways.

The transport aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity with contemporary technology, is expected to strengthen the logistic capabilities of the IAF. It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo. Short take-off/land from semi-prepared surfaces is another of its features. The aircraft can be used for civilian purposes as well.

IndiaNarrative.com had reported when the military aircraft first rolled out of the Spain site this March, painted in IAF colours a month later and successfully completed its maiden flight in May, marking a significant milestone towards its delivery by the second half of 2023.

The Rs 21,935 crore programme, the first of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company, involves the full development of a complete industrial ecosystem – from the manufacture to assembly, test and qualification, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft.

The Indian Defence Ministry has stated that the project offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into the technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry. It will augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and an expected increase in exports.

Manufacturing of over 13,400 detail parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all the seven major component assemblies will be undertaken in India, along with tools, jigs and testers. Also, 96% of the total man-hour work per aircraft that Airbus employs at its manufacturing facility in Spain will be undertaken in India by the Tata Consortium.

Various systems such as engines, landing gear, avionics, EW suite etc, will be provided by Airbus Defence and Space and integrated into the aircraft by the Tata Consortium.

All 56 aircraft will also be fitted with the indigenous electronic warfare suite of Indian DPSUs – Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited.

After the completion of the delivery of 56 aircraft to IAF, Airbus will be allowed to sell the aircraft manufactured in India to civil operators and export to countries which are cleared by the Indian government.

Also Read: IAF Rafales over Paris as India’s first C-295 aircraft gets ready for delivery