Make in India Takes Wings: Tata – Airbus C-295MW Project
In another significant boost to the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s “Make in India” initiative and a big step toward modernization of the Indian Airforce, Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Airbus Defence & Space, S.A., Spain launched the C-295 transport aircraft manufacturing facility in Vadodara, Gujarat on 30th October 2022. The foundation stone of India’s first transport aircraft manufacturing facility was laid by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in the presence of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chairman of the TATA Group Shri N Chandrasekaran, Chief Commercial Officer of Airbus Mr Christian Scherer, and key industry leaders.
TATA and Airbus are collaborating on the replacement of the Indian Airforce’s fleet of Avro-748 aircraft with reliable and robust Airbus C295 medium transport aircrafts. The project, worth roughly $ 3 billion (INR 21,935) will entail supply of 56 aircrafts to the Indian Airforce. Under the contract, 16 aircrafts will be delivered in flyaway condition by Airbus between September 2023 and August 2025, and 40 will be manufactured in India by the TATA Consortium. The first Made in India aircraft is expected in September 2026. 1 This project has commenced following the Ministry of Defence (MoD)’s contract with Airbus Defence and Space, signed in September 2021, for acquisition of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force. The MoD has also signed an Offset Contract with Airbus Defence and Space through which the latter will discharge its offset obligations through the direct purchase of eligible products and services from Indian Offset Partners.2
The launch of this project symbolizes the strides that the country has made in the “Make in India, Make for the World” initiative. It is the first of its kind and the largest investment in the defence sector, propelling the advancement of domestic defence and aviation manufacturing ecosystem in the country. The TATA-Airbus C295 manufacturing facility offers an incredible opportunity for Indian private sector to enter a technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry. It will elevate domestic manufacturing capabilities leading to reduced import dependence and increased defence exports. It is instrumental to note that all 56 aircrafts will be fitted with indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite supplied by Indian Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) – Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited. Manufacturing of over 13,400 Detail Parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all the seven Major Component Assemblies will be undertaken in India, along with tools, jigs, and testers.3 Moreover, the TATA Consortium has identified over 100 in-country MSME suppliers to be integrated into the manufacturing supply chain of this project. The project is aimed to further enhance the aerospace ecosystem of the country through generation of 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3,000 indirect jobs and an additional 3,000 medium-skill employment opportunities.4 Another substantial outcome of this project will involve development of specialized infrastructure in form of hangars, buildings, aprons, and taxiways.
Modernization of the Indian Armed Forces is one of the key focus areas of the Government of India. Over the next 5-7 years, the Government of India has finalized a roadmap to spend $ 130 Billion for fleet modernisation across all armed forces.5 In this regard, the induction of Airbus C-295 aircraft will give a major boost to tactical airlift and logistics capabilities of the Indian Airforce6. This versatile and efficient tactical transport aircraft, with 5-10 tonne capacity, can perform a variety of different missions. The aircraft has a flight endurance of up to 11 hours and can carry out multi-role operations under all weather conditions. It can routinely operate during the day as well as at night combat missions in both desert/maritime environments – and everything in between, including running missions in the Northern and North-Eastern region, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and other regions of the country. Some of the key characteristics of the aircraft includes a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para dropping of troops and cargo and the ability to short take-off/land from semi-prepared surfaces. 7
The inclusion of contemporary technology to augment domestic manufacturing capabilities through the TATA-Airbus collaboration aligns effortlessly with the Government of India’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or Self-Reliant India initiative. There is a formidable push for the establishment of indigenous manufacturing infrastructure supported by a requisite research and development ecosystem. By 2025, India aims to achieve a turnover of $ 25 billion, including exports of $ 5 billion in Aerospace and Defence goods and services.8 By 2030, the Indian Aerospace and Defence market is estimated to reach about $ 70 billion9, as momentum in the sector is expected to escalate with improving infrastructure and thrust from the government. The establishment of 2 dedicated corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh also provides a platform for developing and leveraging all indigenous manufacturing and value-addition-related capabilities in the Indian defence sector. With the vision to enable domestic industry and reduce import dependence, the Government of India has enhanced share of domestic capital procurement of the defence sector under the Union Budget (2022-23) to 68 per cent, amounting to INR 84,598 crores10. Additionally, the Government has a key focus on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to encourage foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to set up manufacturing units in India and form Joint Ventures with the domestic defence sector. These efforts have been well-received by Foreign OEMs around the world, as India is being fast integrated into the global supply chain for aerospace components and parts.
Today, we are witnessing a transformation of India into a global manufacturing hub supported by progression in the value chain under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission. As the Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh unequivocally said during his address at the TATA-Airbus C-295 manufacturing facility launch – “When India used to address a global platform, we were not heard. But now, everyone hears us loud and clear.”
Make in India, Make for the Globe