GHAZIABAD, Sept 25: The first C-295 medium tactical transport aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday, boosting its logistics capabilities.
The induction ceremony took place at the Hindan Air Force Station here in the presence of Union defence minister Rajnath Singh. He later took part in a ‘Sarva Dharma Pooja’ that was performed in the hangar to mark the occasion.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari along with senior officials of the IAF as well as of Airbus attended the induction ceremony.
The first C-295 aircraft was inducted into Squadron No. 11 of the IAF. It is one of the oldest squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and is currently based at Vadodara Air Force Station.
The aircraft was unveiled at the hangar after two sliding screens, bearing ‘11 SQN: Pioneers of C-295 MW’, ‘Rhinos: The Trailblazers of C-295 MW’, and image of the newly-inducted aircraft, moved sideways. One-horned rhino is the emblem of Sqn. No. 11.
The IAF chief had on September 13 received the first of the 56 C-295 transport aircraft two years after India sealed a deal worth Rs 21,935-crore with Airbus Defence and Space to procure the jets to replace its ageing Avro-748 fleet.
The aircraft had landed in Vadodara on September 20, days after it was handed over to the IAF in the southern Spanish city of Seville.
Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in fly-away condition from its final assembly line in Seville by 2025 and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.
The production of components of these aircraft has already started in the Main Constituent Assembly facility in Hyderabad. These parts will be shipped to the Final Assembly Line in Vadodara which is expected to be operational by November 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the manufacturing facility for C-295 planes in Vadodara in October last year. It will be the first military aircraft to be manufactured in India by a private consortium.
The IAF is procuring the C-295 aircraft to replace its fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered the service over six decades ago.
The C-295 is known to be a superior aircraft used for tactical transport of up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers and for logistic operations to locations that are not accessible to current heavier aircraft. The aircraft can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation.
The aircraft is capable of performing special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties
Meanwhile, former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (retd) RKS Bhadauria said the induction of C-295 aircraft “heralds a new era for the Air Force” and this fleet will in times to come become the backbone of the force’s tactical lift capability.
Bhadauria said this aircraft is “state-of-the-art” and “hugely capable”.
“It’s a great day for the IAF as it was one of the very critical requirement to replace the Avro fleet. And, from that perspective, this induction ceremony is heralding a new era for the Air Force in terms of the tactical airlift capability,” he told PTI at Hindan airbase.
This fleet will in times to come become the “backbone of tactical lift capability,” Bhadauria added.
“And, more importantly with indigenous manufacturing in private sector, this would be a game changer for the private industry and for the Air Force in the long-run, from the point of view of maintenance, sustenance, etc.,” the former IAF chief said.
Asked if the C-295 aircraft delivery in future will be in consonance with change in technology, he said, “The aircraft that we are inducting is a state-of the-art one, and in near future there is no worry from this perspective.”
The avionics, these kind of technology keep getting upgraded, Bhadauria said.
“In due course, in times to come, there will be a need to upgrade it further as per technology development, that is life cycle is each aircraft, it will happen in future,” he said.
The first batch of Rafale fighter aircraft was inducted in September 2020 during Bhadauria’s tenure as the IAF chief. (PTI)