The Indian Air Force (IAF)’s efforts to modernise its transport arm gets a leg-up with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) finalising an agreement with Airbus Defence and Space, Spain, to acquire 56 C-295 MW aircraft to replace the IAF’s fleet of HS-748s.
The air force currently operates 56 HS 748s (or Avros, as they are popularly known), mostly for communication duties, and for carrying freight and mail. Some were customised for training navigators while others doubled as pilot trainers. The Avro was first inducted into the IAF in 1964, and the State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has since built 89 of them; the domestic carrier Indian Airlines used 17 Avros for feeder services, while the remaining were in service with the IAF and paramilitary forces.
The C-295 is a twin-turboprop transport aircraft with a high-wing, rear-loading design and has a flight endurance of up to 11 hours carrying nearly 10 tonnes of cargo and 71 troops (or 50 paratroopers). Its short take-off and landing capability on make-shift runways makes it ideal for tactical airlift operations as it can deliver supplies and troops in difficult operational areas.
Under the Rs 22,000-crore deal, India will buy 16 C-295s off the shelf and build the rest 40 locally in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL). Of the 40 planes made in India, the contract stipulates that 16 should have ‘30 percent indigenous components’, with the other 24 aircraft having ‘60 percent locally procured and produced items’.