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Opinion

India to sign $ 2.5 billion contract for 56 transport aircraft for IAF

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India will sign a $ 2.5 billion contract this year for the supply of 56 medium-transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force to replace its fleet of aging Avro-748 jets, officials familiar with the development said on Tuesday.

Airbus Defense and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) will jointly implement the project to equip the air force with 56 C-295 transport aircraft under the Make-in-India initiative in the aerospace sector.

Under the contract, Airbus will supply the first 16 aircraft in flight condition, while the remaining 40 will be assembled in India by TASL, the officials said.

The acquisition of 56 C-295s from Airbus with the participation of an Indian production agency for the manufacture of 40 aircraft (out of a total of 56) in India is in the financial approval stage and the contract is likely to be signed in the near future, the defense said the ministry in its year-end review.

“The case is the first of its kind that involves private companies and would prove to be a boost for our defense industry,” the ministry said.

While the C-295s are intended to replace the Avro-748 transport aircraft, the new aircraft will also be suitable for the demanding roles currently performed by the AN-32, as the Hindustan Times previously reported.

The Avro-748 entered service in the early 1960s and has long had to be replaced, said Deputy Air Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retired), additional director general of the Center for Air Energy Studies.

“The C-295 replacement project has been in the works for the past eight years and has spawned a new term — the Avro model — in the procurement arena due to the unique path taken. In reality, there is an acquisition fatigue that has crept in, a state that must be broken by introducing the aircraft that the IAF urgently demands. The C-295 would also be the natural replacement for the AN-32s, which will also be phased out soon, ”Bahadur said.

The first 16 aircraft will be delivered in two years, and deliveries of the 40 locally assembled aircraft will span a further eight years. The aircraft can operate from short, unprepared runways and carry out a variety of missions in all weather conditions.

The contract for the purchase of 83 LCA Mk 1A aircraft for the IAF from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is also likely to be signed shortly after approval by the Cabinet Safety Committee, the ministry said in its review. Last March, the Ministry of Defense gave the green light to the purchase of 83 Texas advanced aircraft from HAL. The deal is expected to be worth 38 billion rupees.

The deal for the 83 Mk-1A aircraft will bring the total number of Texas variants ordered to 123.

The 40 LCAs already requested by the IAF are in the most advanced Initial Operational Authorization (IOC) and Final Operational Authorization (FOC) configurations. The LCA Mk-1A will come with additional enhancements over the FOC aircraft, making it the most advanced Tejas variant yet.

The Mk-1A variant is expected to come with digital radar warning receivers, external self-protection locking capsules, active electronic scanning array radar, advanced missiles beyond visual range, and significantly improved maintainability.

India is also likely to sign a deal with Israel for additional Marauder Harop (P-IV) weapons systems in the first quarter of 2021, according to the year-end review. The Harop is designed to locate and strike high value targets with precision. The weapon (also known as a suicide drone) tracks the target, launches itself at him and detonates the warhead on impact, according to its manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries.

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