India has achieved a historic milestone with the delivery of its inaugural C295 aircraft, marking a momentous achievement in the nation’s aviation history. This significant development is the outcome of a collaboration between the European aviation titan, Airbus, and the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, marking a groundbreaking moment as the first-ever instance of an Indian private company venturing into aircraft manufacturing.
The Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, officially received the inaugural C295 aircraft at Airbus’s production facility in Seville, Spain. Following this symbolic handover, the aircraft is set to be transported back to India, where a formal induction ceremony is scheduled to be held at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad on September 25th.
The C295 aircraft has been designated to replace the aging Avro fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF). With the capacity to carry payloads of up to nine tonnes or transport as many as 71 troops, it boasts a maximum cruise speed of approximately 480 kilometers per hour. One of its standout features is the presence of a rear ramp for efficient loading and unloading, a capability notably absent in the Avro.
Highly versatile, the C295 aircraft is designed to operate at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet. It can execute takeoffs and landings on short, soft, rough, and unprepared airstrips, a capability the Avro couldn’t match. Furthermore, it is capable of low-level flight, with a minimum speed of 110 knots, making it adaptable to a range of operational scenarios.
Beyond its role as a transport aircraft, the C295 can be customized for a variety of missions. It comes equipped with a multi-mission radar that can be weaponized for close air support operations. Additionally, the aircraft can be adapted for roles such as maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, electronic intelligence (ELINT), and communications intelligence (COMINT) operations, adding to its remarkable versatility.
The C295 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines, ensuring dependable performance. Each of the 56 aircraft in this project will be equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare suite manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. Notably, these aircraft will undergo comprehensive testing as an integrated system by the TATA consortium, with delivery facilitated through self-certification, marking a remarkable achievement in itself.
Airbus has further enhanced the C295’s performance by incorporating winglets, which improve takeoff characteristics, particularly at hot and high airfields, elevate cruise altitudes, extend endurance, and reduce overall fuel consumption by an impressive three to six percent.
The C295 features a state-of-the-art cockpit, facilitating a full spectrum of operations with a two-person crew. It boasts four 14.1-inch multifunctional touchscreen displays, screen reconfigurability, electronic charts and checklists, and system status reports. The cockpit is also compatible with night vision goggles (NVGs), ensuring optimal functionality in diverse conditions.
For the Indian Air Force, the introduction of the C295 aircraft significantly bolsters its tactical airlift capabilities. On a broader scale, it signifies the dawn of a new era in India’s aviation industry, symbolizing the initial strides towards self-reliance in aircraft manufacturing.