In a significant push for India’s indigenous defence manufacturing industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the Tata Airbus facility to manufacture C295 military transport planes in Gujarat on Sunday, ushering India to enter the exclusive group of few countries with the capacity to manufacture such aircraft.
The defence industry has seen substantial growth due to the government’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or self-reliance as the Indian Armed Forces look to achieve national security and strategic autonomy through a modern military amid the constantly-evolving global security scenario. The Modi government aims to build a vibrant local defence industry ecosystem that can boost domestic and export demand.
With the facility set up in Vadodara, it will be the first time the Airbus C295 transport aircraft will be manufactured outside of Europe. In a major push for the government’s ‘Make In India’ aim, it will also be the first time manufacturing of military aircraft in India will take place involving a private company.
The laying of the foundation stone of the defence industrial complex comes a year after India sealed a nearly Rs 21,000 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro-748 planes of the Indian Air Force.
DEVELOPMENT OF MILITARY AIR TRANSPORT COMPLEX
Tata-Airbus combine had said that C295 manufacturing 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.”
Under the deal, 16 C295 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between September 2023 and August 2025 in flyaway condition, while the remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured at the Vadodara facility.
In another first, “indigenous content in the planes will be the highest ever in India, and 96 per cent of the work that Airbus does in Spain will now be done at the new facility.” Welcoming the project, the Defence Ministry said it “offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter the technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry. It will augment domestic aviation manufacturing resulting in reduced import dependence and expected increase in exports.”
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Drawing on the strengths in the auto-components industry, 13,400 parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all significant component assemblies will be manufactured by 25 domestic MSME suppliers spread across seven states. All these 56 aircraft will be fitted with an indigenous electronic warfare suite developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited.
MILITARY TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURING CAPABILITY
With the launch of the C295 aircraft manufacturing facility, India will become the 12th country with the capacity to manufacture such aircraft. Currently, the US, Japan, UK, Russia, France, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Brazil, China, and Japan has that capacity.
The Tata-Airbus facility is due to complete its IAF commitment by 2031 and can start exporting its products to other nations as well.
CIVIL AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURING POTENTIAL
According to the Allied Market Research report, the military transport aircraft industry is set to reach $45 billion by 2030.
As the military transport aircraft industry is robust and technologically advanced as compared to a commercial airliner, due to the requirement of high skill-intensive skills and a complex degree of manufacturing engineering, the C295 manufacturing will open up prospects for the development of domestic commercial aircraft manufacturing as well.
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