By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Friday signed a Rs 21,000 crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space, Spain, for acquisition of 56 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force with an aim to replace the aging fleet of Avro transport aircraft. These contracts were signed following the approval accorded by the Cabinet Committee on Security earlier this month.

“The induction of C-295MW will be a significant step towards modernisation of the transport fleet of the IAF. It is a transport aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity with contemporary technology,” the MoD statement said.

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The aircraft is capable of operating from semi-prepared strips and has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para dropping of troops and cargo. It will give a major boost to tactical airlift capability of IAF, especially in the northern and Northeastern sector and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

This contract is seen as a step to provide a major boost to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan of the government as it offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into the highly competitive aviation industry. 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. The subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems in India as part of a partnership between the two companies and all the deliveries will be made by 2031.

All 56 aircraft will be installed with indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite, the MoD said. After completion of the delivery, the subsequent aircraft manufactured in India can be exported to countries cleared by the government.