IAF’s first C295 completes maiden flight in Spain, induction begins in Sept
Airbus Defence and Space said the maiden flight took place at Seville on May 5 and lasted three hours. IAF crews are at Airbus’s Seville facility for training
NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force’s first C295 medium transport aircraft has completed its maiden flight in Spain, ahead of its induction into the IAF later this year, European firm Airbus Defence and Space said in a statement on Monday.
“This first flight represents a significant accomplishment for the first Make in India aerospace programme. With the IAF set to become the largest operator of the C295 in the world, this programme exemplifies our commitment to improve the IAF’s operational capabilities,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, head of military air systems at Airbus Defence and Space in the statement.
The maiden flight took place at Seville on May 5 and lasted three hours. IAF crews are at Airbus’s Seville facility for training, officials familiar with the matter said.
In September 2021, the defence ministry signed a ₹21,935-crore contract with Airbus Defence and Space for 56 C295 planes to give a push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India campaign). Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Airbus Defence and Space are jointly executing the programme.
As part of the contract, 16 C295 aircraft will be delivered by Airbus in flyaway condition from Spain, and the remaining 40 will be manufactured in India. The 16 flyaway aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between September 2023 and August 2025, while the first Made in India C295 will roll out of the new facility in September 2026 and the remaining 39 by August 2031.
The maiden flight is yet another milestone in the C295 programme, and the induction of these planes will significantly boost the capabilities of the IAF vis-a-vis the Avro-748 aircraft they are replacing, said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 30, 2022, laid the foundation stone of a manufacturing facility being set up by the Tata-Airbus consortium at Vadodara in Gujarat for the C295 aircraft. The development was seen as significant since this is the first time that a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private consortium.
The C295 final assembly line being built in Gujarat is the first concrete, large-scale Make-in-India defence programme in the private sector that will unlock the industrial value chain of design, manufacturing, assembly, testing, delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft, the statement said.
The C295 was ordered as a replacement for the IAF’s fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered service in the early 1960s.
The Avro replacement project was in the works for more than a decade. The defence acquisition council, India’s apex defence procurement body, gave its acceptance of necessity (AoN) in 2012 to replace the Avro planes with 56 new aircraft. Under India’s defence procurement rules, AoN by the council is the first step towards buying military hardware.
The C295 can carry up to nine tonnes of payload or 71 personnel (or 45 paratroopers) and has a maximum speed of 480kmph. It can also operate from short or unprepared airstrips, has a rear ramp for paradropping troops and cargo, and will strengthen the logistics capabilities of IAF.
Apart from the 56 planes already ordered, the C295 facility at Vadodara will be capable of meeting the additional requirements of the air force and catering to export orders.
All 56 aircraft will be fitted with an indigenous electronic warfare suite developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited. After the completion of the delivery of 56 aircraft to the IAF, Airbus Defence and Space will be allowed to sell the aircraft manufactured in India to civilian operators and export to countries cleared by New Delhi, officials said.
The project will provide a boost to India’s aerospace ecosystem and generate thousands of jobs.
The Airbus-Tata consortium has identified more than 125 domestic micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) suppliers spread across seven states. This will act as a catalyst for employment generation and is expected to generate 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3,000 indirect jobs and an additional 3,000 medium-skill employment opportunities.
Manufacturing of more than 13,400 parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all major component assemblies will be carried out in the country, while some equipment such as engines, landing gear and avionics will be provided by Airbus Defence and Space, and integrated into the aircraft by the consortium
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