India is close to finalizing mega deal with Airbus for dozens of C295 transport aircraft

India deal contract Airbus C295
Airbus C295 transport aircraft.

India is close to finalizing a mega-deal with Airbus to purchase 56 C295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

"Case of procurement of 56 C-295 from Airbus with the participation of an Indian Production Agency for manufacture of 40 aircraft in India is also at the Competent Financial Authority (CFA) approval stage and the contract is likely to be signed in the near future," the Defence Ministry said.

The upcoming agreement, which could take place in February during Aero India 2021, should also include the six C295s that New Delhi has already approved for the Coast Guard for a total of 62 aircraft.

The Defence Acquisition Council had cleared the Indian Air Force's plan to buy 56 C295 aircraft in 2015, which was followed by approval for the Coast Guard aircraft. The Indian Air Force selected the C295 as the replacement for its ageing fleet of Avro transport aircraft. The Indian Air Force has a total fleet of over 50 Avros, the first of which entered service in 1961.

The C295 aircraft was jointly launched in India by Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems Limited. The two companies plan to build the first 16 aircraft at the Airbus plant in Seville, Spain, while the remaining 40 will be "Made in India" by Tata.

In November 2020, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) concluded price negotiations with Airbus and Tata; the contract value for 62 aircraft is worth approximately $ 3 billion.

Once finalized, the deal will be the largest ever for the type and India will become its 32nd and largest user.

The C295 is also one of the candidates to replace the IAF's fleet of Antonov An-32 transport aircraft that the nation bought from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The Indian Air Force currently operates around 100 An-32s. The upgrade programme for the An-32 has been stalled by the tension between Ukraine and Russia in recent decades.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Airbus

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