Companies

Defence Ministry to shortlist firms to make Avro replacement

Ravi Sharma Bangalore | Updated on February 08, 2013

Chosen player will have to seek foreign collaboration

In a contract expected to be worth around Rs 12,000 crore, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in a first of its kind, is to shortly issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a number of private sector companies including Reliance, Tata, Larsen & Toubro and Bharat Forge for the manufacture of 56 aircraft in the six to eight- tonne payload capacity. The chosen player will be designated the Indian Production Agency (IPA).

Similar to Avro

The new aircraft is expected to have a cruise speed of 800 kmph and a range of 2,500 to 2,700 km, with the ability to carry around 25 to 30 passengers and be able to operate in hot and cold, humid and dry weather conditions. It is expected to make its maiden flight in around six years.

Questioned on the specifications of the replacement aircraft, Air Marshal P. Kanakaraj, Air Officer-in-Charge of Maintenance at Air Headquarters, said that what the IAF had in mind was an aircraft similar to the Avro, given its suitability for Indian conditions, but with superior Air Staff Qualitative Requirements in areas such as advanced technology, power and capacity.

The Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshall N.A.K Browne, in his speech at a seminar organised to coincide with Aero India, had stated that the RFP for the Avro replacement would be issued shortly.

Given that Indian private sector companies are still years away from systems integration, leave alone designing, developing, and producing a medium-sized transport plane on their own, the chosen company will have to collaborate with an existing overseas aircraft manufacturer, who will, in turn, do the necessary hand-holding for the Avro replacement to be successfully licence-produced in India.

Officials pointed out that foreign companies which make aircraft with specifications similar to what the IAF wants could include Russia’s Ilyushin, Ukraine’s Antonov, the European consortium’s EADS and Italian firm Alenia.

Phase-out

Used mostly for communication and movement, the late 1950s British-designed Hawker Siddeley 748 was licence-produced in India by HAL as the HAL-748 Avro. HAL built 72 for the IAF and 17 for Indian Airlines Corporation.

The IAF used the Avro for almost 40 years extending its life by substituting numerous indigenous systems. But with spares almost impossible to get with the OEM having closed shop years ago and the IAF unable to indigenise systems like such as auto pilot, weather radar and electrical and electronic connectors, it has no choice but to phase out the aircraft.

The IAF is keen that the Avro replacement project be handled by the private sector rather than HAL.

Published on February 08, 2013

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