The Indian Air Force (IAF) formally accepted the first C-295 transport aircraft at the Hindan Air Force Station in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, days after receiving the aircraft at the Airbus facility in Seville, Spain.
No. 11 Squadron, also known as The Rhinos, is the first IAF squadron to be outfitted with the aircraft. It is based in Vadodara.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari were present at the ‘Sarv Dharm Puja’ induction ceremony.
This aircraft can take off and land on unprepared landing strips and will replace the HS-748 Avro aircraft. The introduction of the C-295 will enhance the IAF’s medium-lift tactical capability. Singh stated on X that the Defence and Aerospace industries are the two key pillars for India to become self-sufficient in the future years.
In September 2021, India formalised the procurement of 56 Airbus C295 aircraft at a cost of Rs 21,935 crore to replace the IAF’s ageing Avro fleet.
The first 16 C295s of the 56 on order will be assembled at the San Pablo Sur site in Seville, with the second aircraft scheduled for delivery in May 2024 and the subsequent 14 aircraft being delivered one per month until August 2025.
The remaining 40 C295s of the IAF order will be manufactured and assembled at a Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Vadodara, Gujarat, in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL).
As previously reported by The Indian Express, production of these aircraft’s components has already begun at the Main Constituent Assembly (MCA) facility in Hyderabad. From there, these parts will be transported to the Final Assembly Line in Vadodara, which is expected to be operational by November of next year.
The facility will be comparable to the expansive 1,200,000 square metre Airbus factory in Seville.
The aircraft will be manufactured under the first-ever private sector “Make in India” Aerospace programme. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has held a monopoly on the production of military aircraft in India for many years.
The first C295 to be manufactured in India will leave the Vadodara factory in September 2026, and the final aircraft will be delivered to the IAF in August 2031.
The defence minister also inaugurated the ‘Bharat Drone Shakti 2023’ exhibition at the Hindan Air Force Station in Ghaziabad.
“Drones can be used in a multitude of military and civilian applications today. India is rapidly becoming a key hub for drones by 2030,” he stated on X.
The defence ministry stated in a statement that Bharat Drone Shakti 2023 is a first-of-its-kind drone exhibition jointly organised by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Drone Federation of India (DFI).
The two-day event will be conducted on September 25 and 26, 2023, and will feature over seventy-five drone startups from across the nation.
The drones displayed at the event can be used for a variety of military and civilian applications, according to the statement.
“By showcasing their capabilities through a series of aerial & statics demonstrations, the IAF and DFI seek to bolster the Government’s initiative to make India a major drone hub by 2030,” it further says.