Talks on for replacement of IAF’s Avro aircraft with Airbus C295W

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 12, 2018

Airbus C295W aircraft is equipped with winglets to transport more payload over a longer distance, and more powerful engines

Field evaluation trialscompleted; large chunk to be assembled in India

Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) of the Tata Group and Airbus Defence and Space are inching closer to securing a contract to replace the Indian Air Force’s fleet of 56 Avro aircraft with the C295W military transport aircraft.

Even as negotiations for the $1.8 billion purchase of the C295W are in the final stages, sources indicated that a defence programme between India and Russia to manufacture a new military transport aircraft for the Indian and Russian air forces has effectively been shelved.

Joint venture grounded

Almost seven years after the preliminary nod was given to the Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) programme under a joint venture between Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the project to co-develop a new transport plane has been stalled due to “disagreements over design configurations and issues related to the PD-14M turbofan engine,” sources said.

Though Russia continues to be in talks with India to jointly produce other helicopters, military ships and aircraft, the decision to terminate the Indo-Russian MTA programme has “practically opened the doors to begin the C295W negotiations.”

C295W advantages

The C295W is the latest variant of the C295 military transport aircraft, and is being manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space. The new aircraft is equipped with winglets to transport more payload over a longer distance, and more powerful engines, to deliver improved performance than its predecessor.

Following the completion of the field evaluation trials of the aircraft in India last year, several more “evaluatory steps and trials” have been undertaken by TASL and Airbus to fulfil the criteria under the defence procurement system. Sources added that a high level of indigenisation would also mark the new contract. The 2013 tender detailed “the import of 16 C295s and to build the remaining 40 locally. In accordance with the tender, 24 of the 40 aircraft are to be imported in kit form for local assembly and include around 30 per cent indigenous content. This will double in the remaining 16 platforms,” the sources said.

When contacted, both TASL and Airbus declined to reveal the current status of negotiations.

Scope for more deals

Sources pointed out that since the field evaluation trials were over, “it would help the companies bag further contracts with the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, paramilitary and other civilian agencies that have shown interest.”

Given that the C295 is available in several configurations, including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) version and an Airborne Early Warning (AEW&C) version, a variant is expected to be offered for the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. About 70 to 90 aircraft are needed by the armed forces and paramilitary organisations such as the Border Security Force (BSF) and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force).

Published on June 13, 2017

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