Air force close to sealing a mega Make in India defence deal

Inching closer towards finalising the defence deal for 56 transport aircraft to replace the Avro plane fleet, the commercial bids for the programme is expected to be worth over Rs 15,000 crore are going to be opened in the near future.

The programme is the first major ‘Make in India’ programme in defence sector under which 56 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft are to be produced indigenously in partnership with the Tata group.

Of the 56 planes, 16 would be bought off the shelf from Europe, while the remaining would be acquired from the Tata facilities in India.

“The commercial bids submitted by the joint venture would be opened shortly for the programme after which, if required, there will be negotiations over price and other formalities,” sources told MAIL TODAY.

The Avro replacement programme became important for the service after the closure of a similar plan to develop multirole transport aircraft with the Russians. The field trials of the aircraft have already been completed at various locations across the country, and the plane has met the Air Force’s requirements, the sources said.

Though the Avro replacement programme was envisaged by the Air Force under the UPA government, it made real progress in 2015 after the NDA government studied its requirement for the services. It was accorded the final nod by the Defence Acquisition Council in May 2015.

In May 2013, the ministry had issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to original equipment manufacturers, including US firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, European multinational Airbus Defence and Space and Antonov of Ukraine, among others. They were required to tie-up with an Indian private firm.

However, only Airbus and TATA responded to the RFP. The DAC had approved the Air Force’s proposal to go ahead with the single-vendor proposal. Generally, the Defence ministry avoids going for single vendor tender to avoid monopoly and keep away the charges of favouritism.

The programme has attracted many other services also as the Coast Guard has already selected it for its maritime reconnaissance programme under which the DRDO will develop six such planes for the force. The Navy is also likely to come up with a similar programme where it would want to develop an anti-submarine warfare and surveillance platform using the indigenously produced C-295s.

The aircraft is also being offered to the other agencies, including the central police forces and the National Disaster management Authority, who need fixed wing planes for rapid deployment of troops and in times of natural calamities.

“Increase in the requirement of planes by the other agencies will help us in reducing the cost of the planes,” the sources said. Sources said with the increasing demand for fixed wing planes, it was expected that the requirement for the planes would be close to 80 such planes.

By: India Today

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Categories: Aviation

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