IAF likely to replace AN-32 with C-295

IAF likely to replace AN-32 with C-295


IAF likely to replace AN-32 with C-295

It had been advocated earlier in an article in Indianpolitics.co.in that C295 should replace not only the Avros of the IAF but also the An32s.

It seems that now the IAF is considering the above. Meanwhile HAL and NAL can begin designing a medium lift transport aircraft with 20 ton capacity because we do need another 6 to 9 squadrons of these transporters to meet the needs of a two front war and various peace times needs of the Nation.

The C-295 can carry up to nine tons of payload or 71 personnel or 45 paratroopers with a maximum speed of 480 kmph. It can also operate from short or unprepared airstrips, has a rear ramp for para dropping troops and cargo.

The C-295 transport aircraft is being manufactured in India jointly by TATA Advanced Systems Limited and European firm Airbus Defence and Space. These are going to be a replacement for the IAF’s fleet of vintage Avro-748 planes that entered service in the early 1960s.

The Avro replacement project was under consideration for more than a decade. The defence acquisition council — India’s apex defence procurement body — gave its acceptance of necessity (AoN) in 2012 to replace the 56 Avro planes with new aircraft. This was the first step towards buying the concerned military hardware.

Next under the Make in India initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on October 30, laid the foundation stone for the manufacturing facility being set up by the TATA-Airbus consortium at Vadodara in Gujarat for the C-295s.

The was the result of a ₹21,935-crore contract the defence ministry signed with Airbus Defence and Space last year for 56 C-295 aircraft. TASL is jointly executing the contract, which is being seen as a boost to the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat (self reliant India) campaign. The development was seen as significant as a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private consortium for the first time.

As part of the contract, 16 C-295 aircraft will be delivered by Airbus in flyaway condition from Spain, and the remaining 40 will be manufactured in India. The 16 flyaway aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between September 2023 and August 2025, while the first Made in India C-295 is projected to roll out of the new facility in September 2026, with the remaining estimated to be ready by August 2031.

The Indian Air Force is now finally also considering the possibility of replacing its Antonov-32 (AN-32) planes with the C-295s to modernise its transport fleet. The An 32s had entered service in 1985 and surely need to be replaced after 2030. There’s a growing consensus within the air force on the C-295s being the right fit to replace the AN-32s.

The IAF currently operates nearly 9 squadrons of An32s that is more than 100 AN-32s that play a critical role in supporting forward deployed troops along the country’s frontiers including Ladakh and the Northeast. The lift capacity of these aircrafts is 5.5 tons or 45personnel or 42 paratroopers.

“The C-295 is capable of carrying out the roles assigned to AN-32s, and can be a good replacement when the time comes. While the air force is not in a rush to zero in on a replacement for AN-32s as their phasing out will begin only after 2030, the C-295 fits the bill,” said a second official. It exceeds the performance of the Avro and AN-32 transport planes, and is extremely fuel efficient, IAF vice chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh had said.

More than a decade back India and Ukraine had inked INR 3200 crore deal in 2009 to modernise the AN-32 fleet. Some of the aircrafts were upgraded in Ukraine to improve avionics and increase engine lifespan, while several others are being upgraded at an IAF repair facility in Kanpur.

By the time the AN-32s come up for replacement, the last of the C-295s would have been delivered to the IAF as Avro replacement. Going in for C-295s as a substitute for AN-32 will ensure continuity in production. Apart from the 56 planes already ordered, the C-295 facility at Vadodara will be capable of meeting additional requirements for the air force and also cater to export orders.