European consortium Airbus Defence and Space has made a joint bid with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) for a 56 medium transport aircraft order of the Indian Air Force (IAF) valued at ₹20,000 crore ($3 billion).
"We have submitted a joint bid October 22 for supplying Airbus C295 medium transports to the IAF, which plans to replace its fleet of Avro aircraft," an Airbus Defence official told IANS in an e-mail from France.
The $17.8-billion Airbus Defence has tied up with Tata Sons' subsidiary (TASL) as its Indian production partner for the order.
The bid is for 56 twin-turboprop tactical military aircraft, including 16 in fly-away condition from the Airbus Defence final assembly line and the remaining 40 to be built and assembled by TASL in Hyderabad.
"Under the terms of the request for proposal (RFP), the first 16 aircraft, assembled at Seville in Spain, are to be delivered in 24-48 moths after signing the contract. The remaining 40 aircraft, to be assembled in India, are to be delivered in 60-120 months thereafter," Airbus official Kieran Daly said.
As part of the technology tie-up, TASL will undertake structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing and management of the indigenous supply chain.
"We believe that C295 is the best aircraft to replace the IAF's Avro fleet. In Tata Advanced Systems, we have the cream of the Indian private aerospace sector as our partner for this project," Airbus Defence and Space vice-president Domingo Urena Raso said in a statement.
The aircraft is in the six-eight tonne class, with a cruise speed of 800km per hour and a range of 2,500-2,800km.
The IAF had floated the tender after the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) July 19 cleared the proposal for manufacturing the 56 transport aircraft in the private sector, excluding the city-based state-run defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which built the Avro aircraft.
(The HAL-built vintage Hawker Siddeley 748M Avros, were inducted into the IAF transport fleet during the 1960s to ferry its personnel and heavy equipment. The fleet is also used for rescue and relief missions.)
"Our selection by Airbus Defence as its Indian partner for the IAF's Avro replacement programme demonstrates the confidence that has been built in our ability to undertake this complex project," TASL chairman S. Ramadorai said in the statement.
The IAF proposal was held up during the previous UPA government after its heavy industries minister, Praful Patel, wrote to the defence ministry against keeping HAL from the project.
The defence ministry referred Patel's objection to the law ministry, which favoured the proposal for capacity-building in the domestic aerospace sector.
After DAC cleared the proposal, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in New Delhi that the significant project would lead to capacity-building in the private sector.
Asked if the IAF bid has an offset clause, Daly said Airbus Defence would support TASL in creating a modern and efficient aircraft final assembly line and in initiating the production of a market-leader military transport.
"Our partner (TASL) will also undertake the structural assembly and manage the supply chain in India, whose execution will rely on a broad Indian industrial infrastructure," Daly added.
TASL is also a premier partner for global OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), including Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Cobham Mission Equipment, RUAG Aviation and the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for providing integrated solutions in the aerospace, defence and homeland security spheres.