Airbus agrees deal to make transport planes for Indian military

AFP - ARUN SANKAR

French planemaker Airbus is to produce C295 transport aircraft in collaboration with India’s Tata group. Indian military aviation so far has been strictly off limits to local private firms.

Airbus will hand over 16 ready-to-fly aircraft by 2025 while 40 more will be jointly produced with the Tata business empire, which produces everything from salt to locomotives and is a household brand in India.

The 56 Airbus tactical airlifters will replace the British-origin Avro transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, the defence ministry said.

"This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company," the ministry said after the Tata facility was launched in Gujarat state’s Vadodara town on 30 October.

“The first Made-in-India aircraft is expected in September 2026," the ministry added of the nearly three-billion-euro collaboration between the Tatas, Airbus and Spain-based Space SA which was approved by Delhi in 2021.

As things stand, the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics assemble Russian and British-origin planes and manufacture trainer aircraft for India’s 1.3-million-strong military.

It took India more than 35 years to produce its own supersonic fighter jet but the machine is dependent on foreign parts and is still working through teething problems.

Modi’s dream

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the Tata-Airbus project as a “big step” for his ambition of transforming India into a manufacturing hub for military hardware.

“We are taking a big step in making India a defence manufacturing hub,” Modi said at the project flag-off in Gujarat, his home-state.

The civilian sector too applauded project Varodara.


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