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Make in India for the world, says Modi as foundation stone for C-295 plant is laid in Gujarat

Forty of 56 C-295 aircraft will be manufactured at TATA consortium facility in Gujarat's Vadodara, the last of which will be rolled out by 2031.

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Vadodara: Pitching India as a country capable of cost effective yet quality production, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday asked companies worldwide to “make in India for the world” as he laid the foundation stone here for the assembly line of the European C-295 transport aircraft.

Modi said that the production line will make India a manufacturing hub for transport planes. “I envision a time when even large passenger aircraft would be manufactured in India with made in India-tag,” he said.

As part of the Rs 21,935-crore deal inked last year, the final assembly line of the C-295MW transport aircraft that is operated by 34 countries worldwide is coming up near the airport here in Gujarat’s Vadodara. These aircraft of 5 to 10 tonne capacity will replace IAF’s ageing fleet of the British-made Avro transport aircraft that first flew in 1961.

Sixteen of these aircraft will arrive from the Airbus facility in Spain in flyaway condition between 23 September 2023 and August 2025, and the other 40 will be built in India by a consortium of Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

The first ‘made-in-India’ C-295 will be rolled out in 2026 and the entire order is slated to be completed by 2031 at the rate of eight aircraft per year.

While an order for 56 aircraft is already in place, sources in the defence establishment indicated that more could follow from the armed forces including orders of at least 16 aircraft each by the Navy and the Coast Guard. The IAF, too, is likely to order more once they complete an internal study on what it wants for the transport fleet in the future.

The AN-32, which is the backbone of the Indian military’s aerial logistical needs, is of the same class as the C-295 and will start getting phased out by 2032. Sources said the C-295 performs better than the AN-32 and is capable of landing at short and uneven runways, unlike the Soviet-made aircraft.

India is looking to pitch this aircraft for possible exports while also developing itself as a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub for this aircraft which is operated by a number of countries in the region including the UAE, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Indonesia.

Also Read: IAF gets respite from training nightmare with HTT-40 deal. Focus now on Intermediate Jet Trainer

Indigenisation, multiple modes

Various systems such as engines, landing gear, avionics, EW suite etc. would be provided by Airbus Defence & Space and integrated on the aircraft by the TATA consortium.

All 56 aircraft will be fitted with an indigenous Electronic Warfare suite manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. In another first, the aircraft would be tested as an integrated system by the TATA consortium and delivered through self-certification.

Of the total work put in per aircraft by Airbus employees at its manufacturing facility in Spain, 96 per cent would be undertaken in India by the TATA consortium. This will include manufacturing over 13,400 Detail Parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all the seven Major Component Assemblies in India, along with tools, jigs and testers.

Airbus officials said that the C-295 has been successfully used during long deployments (of up to two years, with each aircraft flying up to 90 hours per month) in remote areas, such as Chad, Iraq and Afghanistan.

With cabin dimensions of 12.7 m/41 ft 8 in (in length), the C-295 has the longest unobstructed cabin in its class with a rear ramp door and can accommodate up to 71 seats. It can operate from short (no longer than 670 m/2,200 ft), soft and rough and unprepared airstrips while also having the ability to carry out low-level flight, flying at speeds down to 110 knots.

Besides essentially being a transport aircraft, it can also be modified for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance with a multi-mission radar that can be weaponised to conduct effective close air support operations. The aircraft can also be modified for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare besides being used for interception of enemy electromagnetic intelligence (ELINT) and communication intelligence (COMINT).

‘Crucial step’ for Indian aviation industry

Commenting on the fast-evolving domestic aviation sector, Modi said Sunday that India is on the verge of becoming one among the world’s top three countries vis-à-vis air traffic. India will need more than 2,000 passenger and cargo aircraft in the next 15 years, he said, adding that the facility in Vadodara is a “crucial step” in that direction.

While emphasising the availability of skilled manpower in the country, Modi said Indians are adopting a new mindset and work culture. Government is giving equal importance to public and private sectors in line with its ‘Sabka Prayas’ (collective effort) approach, he said.

During his address, Modi also lamented the previous government’s attitude towards the manufacturing sector. “We abandoned the makeshift approach of decision-making and came up with various new incentives for investors. We launched the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. Today, our policies are stable, predictable and futuristic,” he said.

“Today, we are improving both services and manufacturing sectors,” he added, while underlining the importance of a holistic approach that focuses on both sectors.

“This facility has the ability to transform the Indian defence aerospace ecosystem. India has cost effective and quality production. We have a talent pool of skilled manpower,” Modi said, adding: “Make in India, make for the globe is the mantra.”

(This report has been updated with additional inputs)

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: ‘Global interest in India-modified M4’ — South African defence firm wants to manufacture in India


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