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India gets its first C295 — all about aircraft that will replace IAF’s ageing Avro fleet

New Delhi: India Wednesday received the first of the 56 C295 aircraft, 40 of which will be manufactured in India as part of a partnership between European aviation major Airbus and TATA. This is the first time an Indian private company will manufacture an aircraft.

The first aircraft was received by Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari in Spain’s Seville, where Airbus has a production facility. It will now be flown back to India and a formal induction ceremony will be held at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad on 25 September.

“It is a major milestone not only for IAF but for the whole country. This is for two reasons. First, for the IAF it improves our tactical airlift capabilities. And for a nation, it marks the beginning of a new era,” the IAF chief said while taking possession of the aircraft in Seville.

He added, “For Aatmanirbhar Bharat, after the first 16 aircraft roll out from this plant, the 17th aircraft onwards will be made in India. It’s a big step for the Indian aviation industry where we will be manufacturing the first military transport aircraft in the country.”

The aircraft will replace the IAF’s ageing Avro fleet. 

Capable of carrying up to nine tonnes of payload or as many as 71 troops at a maximum cruise speed of about 480 kilometre, the C295 can also be used for air-to-air refuelling of choppers and fixed-wing aircraft. Unlike the Avro, the C295 has a rear ramp for loading and unloading — which will serve as a boon for the IAF when dealing with larger equipment.

Fitted with a retractable landing gear and an unobstructed 12.69-meter-long pressurised cabin, the C295 cruises at altitudes up to 30,000 ft. It can operate from short (no longer than 670 m/2,200 ft), soft, rough and unprepared airstrips, unlike the Avro. In addition, it can also carry out low-level flight, flying as slow as 110 knots.

Besides essentially being a transport aircraft, it can also be modified for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance with a multi-mission radar that can be weaponised to conduct effective close air support operations. 

The aircraft can also be modified for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare, besides electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) needs.

The C295 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines.

Each of the 56 aircraft will be equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare suite manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. In another first, the aircraft would be tested as an integrated system by the TATA consortium and delivered through self-certification.

The C295’s baseline now includes winglets that provide better performance in all phases of flight, delivering improved takeoff characteristics at hot and high airfields, enabling higher cruise altitudes (especially at higher weights), increasing endurance, and reducing overall fuel consumption by three to six percent, according to Airbus.

Its cockpit allows a full range of operations to be performed by a crew of two and includes four 14.1-inch multifunctional touchscreen displays, reconfigurability for the screens, electronic charts and checklists, as well as system status reports. The cockpit is also compatible with night vision goggles (NVGs).

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: As India’s medium transport aircraft deal gets rolling, IAF has a tough decision to make


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