VADODARA, Oct 30: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called on global defence majors to manufacture military hardware in India for the world after laying the foundation stone of a facility here for the production of European C-295 military transport aircraft.
In his address, Modi said India is moving forward with the mantra of “Make in India and Make for the Globe” and that his government’s policies are “stable, predictable and futuristic” which are boosting the overall economic growth.
Under a Rs 21,935 crore deal inked in September last year, the Tata Group will manufacture 40 C-295 medium transport aircraft at the Vadodara facility in cooperation with European aerospace major Airbus.
The Prime Minister said the manufacturing facility would help India become a hub for production of transport aircraft and that he could envision the day when big commercial planes would be made in the country bearing the words ‘Make-in-India’.
“India is presenting opportunities for low-cost manufacturing and high output…. Today India is working with a new mindset, a new work-culture,” he said at the event, urging defence majors to take advantage of the favourable environment for manufacturing in the country.
Highlighting the increasing demand for passenger and cargo aircraft in India, the Prime Minister said the country will need more than 2,000 planes in the next 15 years.
He pointed out that today is a crucial step in this direction and India has already begun preparations for the same.
Transport aircraft manufactured in Vadodara will not only give strength to the armed forces but it will help in developing a new ecosystem of aircraft manufacturing. “Vadodara which is famous as a cultural and education centre will develop a new identity as an aviation sector hub,” Modi said.
It will be the first time in the Indian private sector that an aircraft will be manufactured in-country, from parts to final assembly.
In his remarks, Modi said India today has taken a “big step” to boost manufacturing, adding the country is making fighter jets, tanks, submarines, medicines, vaccines, electronic gadgets, mobile phones and cars that are popular in many countries.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh described the occasion as a milestone in India’s quest for becoming self-reliant in defence production.
The aircraft will be produced by a consortium of European aerospace major Airbus and the Tata Group.
“It is a historic moment not only for the Tata Group but for the country, as it embraces the prime minister’s vision of making India a truly ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) country,” N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, said.
Airbus chief executive officer Guillaume Faury said his company is honoured to play a role in this “historic moment for aerospace in India”.
“Our Airbus teams are committed to supporting the modernisation of the Indian Air Force with the C295 programme, which will also contribute to the development of the private defence manufacturing sector in the country,” he said in his brief address.
The manufacturing unit will also cater for the export of the premier transport aircraft as well as for additional orders by the Indian Air Force.
In September last year, India sealed the deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C-295 aircraft to replace the IAF’s ageing Avro-748 planes that entered service in the early 1960s.
Under the agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain within four years and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.
The 16 fly-away aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the IAF between September 2023 and August 2025.
The first Made-in-India aircraft will be rolled out of the manufacturing facility in September 2026 and the remaining 39 will have to be produced by August 2031.
In his address, Modi also highlighted that India is presenting a global opportunity for the world that is beset by the coronavirus pandemic and war and marred by disruptions in the supply chain.
He pointed out that the growth momentum of India has been constant, even in such tough circumstances.
Modi explained that operating conditions are constantly improving and India is focussing on cost competitiveness as well as quality.
“India is presenting the opportunity of low cost manufacturing and high output,” the Prime Minister said. He further added India has a huge talent pool of skilled manpower.
Modi also recalled “a time” when the dominant thought was to focus on the service sector as manufacturing was considered to be beyond reach.
“Today we are improving both services and manufacturing sectors,” he said.
Modi also lamented the “makeshift approach” of the previous government where the manufacturing sector was kept barely functional through subsidy.
He said there was neglect of basic facilities such as logistics, electricity supply or water supply. “We have abandoned the makeshift approach of decision making and have come up with various new incentives for investors.”
The foundation laying ceremony was also attended by civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gujarat chief minister Bhupendrabhai Patel and several top executives of leading defence majors.
The IAF will become the 35th C295 operator worldwide. Till date, the programme counts 285 orders, with more than 200 aircraft delivered, 38 operators from 34 countries as well as 17 orders repeated. In 2021, the C295 achieved more than half-a-million flight hours.
IAF officials said the aircraft would be able to operate from Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) and even unprepared runways.
It is also the first time that the C-295 aircraft will be manufactured outside of Europe.
All 56 aircraft will be fitted with an indigenous Electronic Warfare suite to be developed by state-run Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Limited.
After the completion of the delivery of 56 aircraft to IAF, Airbus Defence and Space will be allowed to sell the aircraft manufactured in India to civil operators and export to countries which are cleared by the government of India.
Officials said the project offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into the technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry.
The defence ministry said manufacturing of over 13,400 detail parts, 4,600 sub-assemblies and all the seven major component assemblies of the aircraft will be undertaken in India.
It said various systems such as engines, landing gear and avionics will be provided by Airbus Defence and Space and integrated into the aircraft by the TATA Consortium.
With a proven capability of operating from short or unprepared airstrips, the C295 is 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.
The aircraft will be tested as an integrated system by the TATA Consortium. The aircraft will be flight tested and delivered through a delivery centre at the TATA Consortium facility.
The project is expected to generate 600 highly skilled jobs directly, over 3,000 indirect jobs and an additional 3,000 medium-skill employment opportunities with more than 42.5 lakh man-hours of work within the aerospace and defence sector.
Nearly 240 engineers will be trained at the Airbus facility in Spain for the project. (PTI)