Close on the heels of clinching the Indian Air Force contract for supply of mid-air refuellers, European consortium Airbus will now bid for the Rs 12,000-crore global tender to be floated by India for procuring 56 medium-lift transport aircraft to replace its vintage Avro planes.
The Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister A K Antony had in July last year cleared a proposal to procure 56 transport aircraft. The tender, though, is yet to be floated.
"Our hope is that by the next financial year we would be invited to present the RFP [Request for Proposal]," Airbus Military officials said, informing that the aircraft is being tested for further improvement.
Airbus Military has already clinched the deal to supply its A-330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft after it emerged as the lowest bidder in the IAF contract worth over Rs 8,000 crore for procuring them.
So far, the IAF has only been equipped with Russian-origin IL-78 mid-air refuellers.
Making a strong case for C295 and its efficacy in Indian Air Force, head of marketing of light and medium transport of Airbus Military Jeronimo Amador vouched for the aircraft's fuel efficiency and the total life cycle cost.
Talking to reporters at the Airbus facilities in Seville, Spain, he said the aircraft has been sold to 17 operators so far with six countries coming with repeat orders.
He said the aircraft can fulfil logistics need for a large country like India with 1,500 nautical mile range from New Delhi.
The first 16 transport aircraft, according to the proposal cleared by the DAC, will be procured off-the-shelf from foreign vendors who will have to partner with a local private or public sector firm.
The next 16 aircraft will have to have 30% indigenous component while the remaining 24 planes will have 60% locally-procured and produced items.
The IAF fleet of Avro aircraft, inducted in 1960s, is used for transporting men and material. The aircraft can carry loads up to 7-8 tonnes.
According to Jeronimo, C295 is currently being tested for further improvement as "winglets are slated to be added for improved performance in different phase of flight apart from surveillance versions".
Airbus claims that its C295 has the largest cargo floor area in its category and can carry more troops, paratroops, containers and pallets than the competitors.
"It is simple and robust and easy to maintain and operate," Jeronimo said.