-By Bobby Yadav
India is a growing nation in every sector from commercial to defense and requires a strong fleet for its protections. Transportation plays a vital role in nation building and security. On 30th October 2022 Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of C-295 tactical transport aircraft with the aim to build Indian defense manufacturing industry beyond $25 billion by 2025 and defense export sector by $5 billion. The Indian Air Force (IAF) took delivery of its first C-295 transport aircraft from Airbus Defense and Space, Spain and was formally inducted into the Indian Airforce on 25 September 2023 at Hindon Air base. The aircraft is the first of 56 such planes ordered by the IAF under a ₹21,935-crore project to modernize its transport fleet. This is one of the biggest investments made in the Indian defense sector and Tata will be the first private manufacturer of military aircraft in the country.
Sixteen of the 56 aircraft will be delivered by Airbus in fly-away condition by 2025, and the remaining 40 will be manufactured by Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) in Vadodara, Gujarat. India is expected to become the world’s largest operator of C-295 aircraft once all deliveries are completed.
The C-295 will play a vital role in enhancing the IAF’s transport capabilities. It will replace the IAF’s aging Avro-748 fleet, which has been in service for over five decades. The C-295’s superior performance and capabilities will give the IAF a significant edge in its operations.
The C-295 is a medium-tactical transport aircraft with twin turboprop engines. It can cruise at an altitude of up to 13,500 feet (on single engine) and 30,000 feet (on both engines) and has a maximum range of 5,000 kilometers. The aircraft can carry a payload of up to 9 tonnes, or 71 personnel, or 45 paratroopers. The aircraft has a rear ramp door for quick deployment of paratroopers and cargo aerial drop. The aircraft is also equipped with a variety of advanced features, including a digital cockpit, a glass cockpit, and a state-of-the-art navigation system. The aircraft is also equipped with self-protection systems, such as radar warning receivers and missile approach warning systems.
The C-295 is a new-generation twin-turboprop tactical transport aircraft. It is a versatile aircraft that can be used for a variety of missions, as we are aware of India’s continuous involvement in humanitarian missions and Forces pledge toward national security, this aircraft is capable to carry tasks such as troop transport, cargo airdrop, medical evacuation, and maritime patrol. Indian northern region poses a lot of challenges in flight operations specially near forward post areas and such medium transport aircraft is a game changer for Indian forces as this aircraft is also capable of operating in harsh environments and has short take-off and landing (STOL) characteristic (landing and takeoff run of just 320m to 670m) and can be used on unpaved runways. It can also fly at low level as per mission requirements which many heavy-lift transport aircraft are not capable of doing.
The C-295 with upgradations can perform additional tasks such as: –
- Air to Air refueling of other aircraft and helicopters.
- For medical missions it can be fitted with 24 stretchers and 7 medical attendants.
- Can perform firefighting tasks by fitting water bombers.
- Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
- Provide air-support to ground troops as a gunship.
Make in India
The C-295 project is a major boost to the Indian government’s Make in India initiative. Experts believe that the manufacturing of 40 C-295 aircraft in India will create 15,000 high skilled jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs and stimulate the growth of the Indian aerospace industry with the motive of making it in India and making it for the world.
Tata Advance System (TASL) has already set up a Final Assembly Line (FAL) for the C-295 in Vadodara. The FAL is expected to be operational by November 2024. This facility will hold the power to transform the country’s defense as well as transport sector. The first Made in India C-295 aircraft is expected to roll out of the Vadodara FAL in September 2026.
The C-295 project will also involve the transfer of technology from Airbus to TASL. This will help India develop its own capabilities in the design and manufacture of military aircraft. Also generate thousands of job opportunities in the upcoming future.
India is also in talks with Airbus to set up a maintenance, repair, and overhaul hub for C-295s operated by countries in this region, including UAE, PHILIPPINES, THAILAND, UZBEKISTAN and INDONESIA.
A Step toward Indigenous Power Play
Airbus will transfer technology to TASL on most components of the C-295 so that 95% of the aircraft can be made in India within the next few years. The Made in India C-295 aircraft will be equipped with indigenous radar warning receivers and missile approach warning systems developed by Bharat Electronics Limited, while the countermeasure dispensing system will be developed by Bharat Dynamics Limited. Production of components of C-295 has already started at the Main Constituent Assembly (MCA) Hyderabad. First Made in India C-295 is expected to roll out in September 2026.
The C-295 contract involves performance-based logistic support for five years, ensuring a fleet availability rate of 85%. Also, the supply of spare parts for 10 years covering 10 operating bases, including ground support equipment, test equipment, tech publication, training devices and training.
The C-295 project is a significant milestone for the Indian Air Force and the Indian aerospace industry. With the mantra ‘SabkaPrayas’ (giving equal importance to private and government sectors) it will enhance the IAF’s transport capabilities and boost the Make in India initiative.