Hello defence lovers! In this article, we are going to discuss the upcoming transport aircraft, Airbus C 295 of the Indian airforce. We are going to discuss why this aircraft is a perfect choice for the Indian airforce to replace its ageing fleet of HS 748 Avro and Antonov An 32. We will look at its versatility and would discuss what roles it can play.
The Airbus C 295 is twin-engine medium-lift military turboprop transport aircraft. It was initially developed by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA, a Spanish aviation company which is currently merged under the Airbus consortium. It flew its first flight on 28 November 1997 and as of now 164 of these aircraft are serving 15 different countries around the globe.
It is powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW127G turboprop engines which produce 2644 horsepower each. These engines can propel the aircraft at a maximum speed of 482 km/hr. It has a maximum payload carrying capacity of 7050 kg which is equivalent to 73 fully equipped regular soldiers or 48 fully equipped paratroopers. It can take off from unprepared runways just like the C130J Super Hercules. It requires only an 844 meters runway to take off (at sea level) and just a 420 meters long runway to land.
The Deal Of Airbus C-295
A deal between the Indian Government and Airbus Consortium was finalised with Airbus on 13 May 2015 for the procurement of 62 Airbus C295 aircraft. According to this deal, the Indian Airforce will receive 56 such aircraft and Coast Guards will receive 6 of them. The first 16 aircraft will be bought in direct fly-away condition why the rest 40 aircraft will be manufactured under the make in India program by the Indian Partner Tata Advanced system Limited. The first 16 aircraft will be delivered in 2 years from signing the deal while the rest will be manufactured in India over the span of 8 years. As of now, the deal is yet to receive financial approval from the Ministry of Defence. The deal will be signed in the near future. Looking at the numbers of An 32 and Avros currently in the service of IAF, the follow on orders are expected to be received.
Why Airbus C-295 Is A Perfect Choice?
The C295 is a quite versatile platform. Apart from being a medium-lift military transport aircraft, it can perform a variety of other tasks as well. It can perform the role of maritime patrol aircraft, gunship, Aewac, Aerial Tanker, firefighter, and signal intelligence The most significant roles from the Indian context will be the role of AEWAC and Aerial refueller. let us discuss these capabilities one by one.
Back in 2011, Airbus made an AEWAC version of c295 with the collaboration with Israeli Aerospace Industries. IAI’s EL/w-2090 radar was mounted on it which is capable of providing 360-degree coverage. It is the same radar mounted on the Falcon AEWACs of the Indian Air Force. As of now, the Indian airforce has a severe shortage of AEWACs. For the world’s fourth-largest airforce only 5 AEWACs are currently in service. Some of the procured C 295s can be modified into AEWACs to fulfill this requirement. DRDO also has plans to mount its indigenous Netra radar on it.
Currently, the Indian Airforce operates only 6 Aerial tankers/ refuellers which are insufficient to fulfill the requirements of such an Airforce that operates more than 500 fighter aircraft. Fortunately, the Airbus C295 comes with the capability to be converted as a makeshift aerial tanker which can perform this role very well. An aerial refueling kit can be installed on the C 295 which turns it into an Aerial tanker of probe and drogue configuration which bears the designation KC 295. Thus it can solve the IAF’s tanker problem.
Thus all these factors make the Airbus C 295 a Perfect Choice for the replacement of HS 748 Avro and Antonov An 32. It will boost the capabilities of IAF significantly.