I think it’s fair to say that Airbus Defence and Space has great association with ISRO and Antrix, and we’re enormously proud of that. We’ve designed and built two communication satellites together in the past
Venkat Katkuri, President, Airbus Defence and Space Division, India

Venkat Katkuri What are the reasons for the delay in signing the A330 MRTT contract? Have you started the cost negotiations with the Indian government?
It is not completely clear to us what is happening but the acquisition has stagnated. We assume that pricing is not the issue or the ministry of defence (MoD) would have sought further clarifications from us. We have diligently followed all the processes, guidelines and DPP rules and we are still looking forward to further constructive dialogue on the way forward.

Will the MRTT contract have any ‘Make in India’ component? If yes, please elaborate.
The MRTT programme is not particularly appropriate for ‘Make in India’ in part because it is based on a very well-established platform – the commercial A330-200 – which has a long-term supplier base already in place, and in part because the total number of tankers that will be built globally is relatively small and it would be prohibitively expensive to make design changes for one customer. I think that is well understood by the MoD. That is in contrast to the C295W proposal of course, which involves a substantial number of aircraft.

Which version of C295 will you be supplying for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the Avro replacement programme? Could you provide the specifics of the crucial systems and avionics of the proposed version of C295?
We would supply the C295W with winglets, which are now standard on the aircraft, and the option to use uprated engine power settings – both of which are important for improved performance and safety margins in hot and high conditions. The systems and avionics are primarily the same as on any other C295W with the exception that there will be Indian elements of the defensive aids sub-system, with the details under discussion.

According to Airbus, 40 C295 aircrafts will be produced in India. Do you think India has a major challenge in setting up a production line that will produce the aircrafts at this scale?
We have complete confidence in our partner Tata to establish the production line with us. They have a wealth of experience in diverse engineering fields and already have significant aerospace structural manufacturing capabilities and a technological base on which to build.

Given the FDI cap of 49 per cent in defence, would you still be interested in transferring your crucial aviation technologies to Indian partners? In C295 project, which specific technologies are you willing to share with Tata?
Well, as we have made clear recently, the business case for technology transfer to India becomes more compelling if original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like us are allowed to have adequate equity and management control in line with the risk that we are taking and our contribution. In the case of the C295W project with Tata, the FDI limit is not strictly relevant as there is no joint venture involved. But in any case, the major benefit that this programme brings is the introduction of a full aircraft manufacturing capability to the Indian private sector with all the accompanying expertise and experience that will flow from that and can be applied on future programmes.

Going beyond C295 and A330MRTT, what other products and services are you currently offering to the defence forces in India?
We are naturally keeping a close eye on India’s maritime surveillance requirements, both regarding the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, and we are ready to propose a MPA variant of the C295W for those roles as and when the formal solicitations emerge. And we continue to work closely with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and CABS in the AWACS sphere – I’m sure we will have more to say on that in due course.

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