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Force Magazine

Waiting in the Wings

Airbus Defence and Space will be hoping for a quick finalisation of their bid for the Avro replacement programme

By Atul Chandra

In a clear move towards increasing India’s defence manufacturing capability, a number of defence programmes across fixed wing and rotary wing platforms will be procured under the ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ category. The Avro replacement programme was a trailblazer in the sense that it was the first time the private sector aerospace industry was allowed to participate in a military aircraft procurement to such a level, with the ministry of defence (MoD) taking a decision to keep out Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from the programme and handing it to the private sector.

A decision on how to proceed forward with the Avro programme and the requirement for additional PC-7MKII trainers was deferred last month by the new defence minister Manohar Parikkar, who sought additional information on both the deals. While the effort to increase India’s defence base is laudable, the first casualty of procuring under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category will be the timelines envisaged. The Avro replacement programme for 56 utility transports to replace outdated HAL HS-748s is estimated to cost in excess of Rs 12,000 crore (USD 2 billion). The first aircraft will be delivered within two years of contract signature and all 56 must be delivered within eight years of contract signature. Airbus Defence and Space has emerged as the sole bidder for the programme and submitted a joint bid with Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in October, offering the Airbus C295 medium transport as the replacement for the Avro. “The C295 is a superbly reliable and tough aircraft with outstanding economics which is proven in the most difficult operating conditions all over the world. It has already been ordered by 19 countries, many of which have placed repeat orders. And just this year it has dominated the market with orders for no fewer than 20 aircraft from five countries,” said Domingo Ureña Raso, Airbus Defence and Space executive vice president, military aircraft.

In a statement, Airbus Defence and Space said, “the teaming follows a detailed industrial assessment and stringent evaluation of the Indian private aerospace sector by Airbus Defence and Space, which concluded with the selection of TASL as the Indian Production Agency (IPA) exclusive partner for this prestigious programme.” In the event of a final contract award, Airbus Defence and Space will supply the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its own final assembly line and the remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by TASL in India. TASL will also undertake structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing, and management of the indigenous supply chain.” The transfer of technology (ToT) calls for two phases that will be in the form of Semi Knocked Down kits (SKD) and Completely Knocked Down kits. TASL will need to produce 16 aircraft in India with a minimum of 30 per cent Value Addition (VA) in the first phase. The subsequent second phase will see production of 24 aircraft with a VA of 60 per cent. TASL will also have to obtain a Maintenance Transfer of Technology (MToT) from Airbus Defence and Space, to enable it to carry out ‘D’ level servicing in India.

C295’s similarity in fuselage cross-section with CH-47 Chinook helicopter allows easy transfer of cargo between the two types; State-of-the-art glass cockpit on the C-295 reduces crew workload while increasing situational awareness

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