According to sources, India’s first-ever private sector aircraft manufacturing facility, along with companies associated with its industrial ecosystem, is likely to be located at the Dholera Special Investment Region in Gujarat. Dholera is being extensively developed as a prominent point between the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor; the city is located 100 km southwest of Ahmedabad.
Airbus will be manufacturing 40 C-295MW military transport in India under a partnership with an Indian consortium led by Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL). This deal will be implemented under a $2.8 Billion contract signed with the Ministry of Defence in September 2021.
This project will be the first-ever big-scale ‘Make in India’ aerospace programme, which will involve the development of a complete industrial ecosystem from manufacture to assembly, test and qualification to delivery and maintenance over the aircraft’s entire life cycle.
A previously signed contract compels Airbus Defence & Space to buy equipment and systems worth 30 per cent of the entire value of the C-295MW contract from its Indian partners. Interestingly, the manufacturing facilities of the Indan companies are likely to be located in Dholera.
This could be the highlight of the Dholera Special Investment Region’s Aviation Zone and MRO Hub, which is planned to be situated adjacent to an in-the-works greenfield international airport. Apart from manufacturing units, the Aviation Zone will include an aviation academy, flight training institute and MRO facilities for airframes, engines and C&D checks.
A joint statement issued by Airbus and TASL released after the signing of the contract, said: “The C295MW programme will see Airbus bring its complete bouquet of world-class aircraft manufacturing and servicing to India in collaboration with our industrial partners, including the Tatas and leading defence public sector units such as Bharat Electronics Ltd. and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, apart from private Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.”
This private-sector aircraft manufacturing complex has put a full-stop to the old monopoly of the public sector, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Dholera airport will have two runways of 4,000 metres and 2,910 metres, respectively, which would be essential to the flight-testing facility for the Airbus-Tata complex. For this project, the Ministry of Defence has issued a No-Objection Certificate for constructing an international airport, as per the project reports prepared by the Airports Authority of India and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
A 1,426-acre land parcel near Navagam village has been kept as reserved for the upcoming Dholera airport and has been declared an ‘Early Bird Project’ by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion; the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation, and the Government of Gujarat.
The first batch of 16 C-295MW aircraft under the Buy and Make (Global) contract with Airbus will be delivered in a fly-away condition to India from the Airbus assembly line in Seville, Spain, within four years. The other batch of 40 aircraft will be manufactured, assembled, and tested at the Indian assembly line.
All 56 aircraft are expected to be delivered to the Indian Air Force within ten years. These aircraft will be equipped with an electronic warfare suite developed indigenously in India.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tata Advanced Systems Limited Sukaran Singh has stated that this deal is a big moment for the Make in India plan. “This is a moment of pride for Tatas and a milestone for the Indian military manufacturing ecosystem. For the first time, an Indian private company will wholly manufacture an aircraft in India. Furthermore, this endeavour demonstrates Tata Advanced Systems’ capabilities as a defence manufacturer to build globally competitive complex platforms in India,” said Singh after the signing of the contract.
According to the CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, Michael Schoellhorn, the Indian contract will enlarge the footprint of the C-295 both operationally and industrially. “This contract will support the further development of India’s aerospace ecosystem, bringing investment and 15,000 skilled direct jobs and 10,000 indirect positions over the coming ten years,” said Michael.
The C-295MW will replace the veteran Avro-748 fleet of the IAF. It can do a tactical airlift in the 5-to-10-ton category, landing on short or unprepared airstrips. It has a proven capacity to airlift up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers and carry logistical loads to locations that are not accessible to heavier aircraft. In addition, the C-295MW can perform special missions and disaster relief, maritime patrol duties and carry out medical evacuations.
“After completion of the delivery, the subsequent aircraft manufactured in India can be exported to countries which the Government clears of India,” the Ministry of Defence stated.