PM Modi to lay foundation stone of Gujarat military plane plant

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a manufacturing facility being set up by the Tata-Airbus consortium at Vadodara in Gujarat for C-295 medium transport aircraft to modernise the Indian Air Force’s transport fleet, top defence ministry officials said.

The development is significant as a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private consortium for the first time. It comes more than a year after the defence ministry signed a ₹21,935-crore contract with Airbus Defence and Space for 56 C-295 planes to give push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India campaign).

Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Airbus Defence and Space will jointly execute the programme. The C-295s will replace the IAF’s fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered service in the early 1960s.

Defence secretary Ajay Kumar said 16 C-295 aircraft will be delivered by Airbus in flyaway condition from Spain, and the remaining 40 will be manufactured in India by Tata consortium of TASL and Tata Consultancy Services.

Manufacturing of more than 13,400 parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all major component assemblies will be carried out in the country, while some equipment such as engines, landing gear and avionics will be provided by Airbus Defence and Space, and integrated on the aircraft by the Tata consortium, the defence ministry said.

The Avro replacement project has been in the works for more than a decade. The defence acquisition council — India’s apex defence procurement body — gave its acceptance of necessity (AoN) to replace the Avro planes with 56 new aircraft in 2012. Under India’s defence procurement rules, AoN by the council is the first step towards buying military hardware.

It is the first Make in India aerospace programme in the private sector involving the full development of a complete industrial ecosystem; from manufacture to assembly, test and qualification, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft, Airbus Defence and Space and TASL had earlier said in a joint statement.