C295 aircraft manufactured by the Tata-Airbus consortium in India

Source: By Man Aman Singh Chhina: The Indian Express

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 October 2022 laid the foundation stone of a C295 aircraft manufacturing plant in Vadodara, Gujarat, of the Tata-Airbus consortium that will manufacture the transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company. It is also the first time that the C295 aircraft will be manufactured outside of Europe. The manufacturing unit will cater to the export of the transport aircraft and for additional orders by the IAF.

Where is the C295 produced and by whom?

The C295 was originally produced by a Spanish aircraft manufacturer named Construccionaes Aeronauticcas SA. This company is now part of Airbus and the aircraft’s manufacturing takes place at Airbus’s plant in Spain. In September 2021, India signed a Rs 21,935 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C295 aircraft to replace the IAF’s ageing Avro-748 planes, which entered service in the early 1960s.

Under the agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain within four years, and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies. The 16 fly-away aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the IAF between September 2023 and August 2025. The first Made-in-India aircraft will be rolled out of the manufacturing facility in September 2026 and the remaining 39 will have to be produced by August 2031.

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 civil operators and export to countries which are cleared by the Government of India.

What are the technical specifications of the C295 aircraft?

The C295MW is a transport aircraft with 5 to 10-tonne capacity and a maximum speed of 480 kmph. It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo. Short take-off and landing from semi-prepared surfaces are some other features.

The technical specifications put out by Airbus say that the aircraft has a cabin dimension of 12.7 metres or 41 feet and eight inches. The company claims this aircraft has the longest unobstructed cabin in its class which can accommodate 71 seats. The company also claims that C295 can carry more cargo than its competitors with direct off-loading through the rear ramp.

All 56 aircraft will be fitted with an indigenous electronic warfare suite to be developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar has said the indigenous content in the plane will be the highest ever in India, and that 96 per cent of the work that Airbus does in Spain to produce the plane will be done at the manufacturing unit in Vadodara.

In which terrains have the C295 operated across the world?

As per Airbus, the C295 operates in the Brazilian jungles and Columbian mountains in South America, the deserts of Algeria and Jordan in the Middle East and the cold climates of Poland and Finland in Europe. The aircraft has also flown in military operations in Chad, Iraq and Afghanistan.

What are the roles that the C295 can perform?

As a tactical transport aircraft, the C295 can carry troops and logistical supplies from main airfields to forward operating airfields of the country. It can also operate on short unprepared airstrips as it is capable of Short Take-off and Landing (STOL). It can operate from short airstrips just 2,200 feet long and can fly low-level operations for tactical missions flying at a low speed of 110 knots, says Airbus.

The aircraft can additionally be used for casualty or medical evacuation, performing special missions, disaster response and maritime patrol duties.