Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) – a Tata Sons subsidiary – has tied up with European consortium Airbus Defence and Space to make a joint bid for 56 medium transport aircraft order of the Indian Air Force (IAF) valued at Rs. 20,000 crore ($3 billion). The joint bid for supplying Airbus C295 medium transports t the IAF has already been submitted, tell sources. IAF places to replace its fleet of Avro aircraft with the new Airbus C295.
The bid includes 56 twin-turboprop tactical military aircraft, out of which 16 will be directly supplied by Airbus Defence whereas the remaining 40 will be built and assembled by TASL in its Hyderabad unit. The first 16 aircraft, assembled at Seville in Spain, will be delivered in next 24-48 months after signing the contract whereas the remaining 40 aircraft, to be assembled in India, will be delivered in 60-120 months thereafter, as per terms of request for proposal (RFP). TASL will take care of structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing and management of the indigenous supply chain.
The C295, that comes in six-eight tone class, with a cruise speed of 800 km per hour and a range of 2500-2800 km, is seen by some as the best aircraft to replace the IAF’s Avro fleet. However, the pessimists are looking at the longer than usual 60-120 month delivery schedule, by when new technology is expected to outdate this delivery. This deal, if goes through, will also be a big loss for our own defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), which built the Avro aircraft way back in 1960s, when these vintage Hawker Siddeley 748M Avros were inducted into IAF transport fleet to ferry its personal and heavy equipment.
For those unaware, IAF had floated the tender after the Defence Acquisition Council had in July ’14 cleared the proposal for manufacturing the 56 transport aircraft in the private sector. Earlier the UPA government had withheld the IAF proposal after its heavy industries minister, Praful Patel wrote to the defence ministry against keeping HAL out of the project. The defence ministry had referred Patel’s objection to the law ministry, which too had favoured the proposal for capacity-building in the domestic aerospace sector. With NDA coming to power, DAC gave green signal to the proposal. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley is of view that the project would lead to capacity-building in the private sector. This decision, at the cost of HAL, is bound to raise eyebrows.