The first C-295 medium tactical transport aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force on Monday, boosting its logistics capabilities.
The induction ceremony took place at the Hindan Air Force Station here in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. He later took part in a 'Sarva Dharma Pooja' that was performed in the hangar to mark the occasion.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari along with senior officials of the IAF as well as of Airbus attended the induction ceremony.
The first C-295 aircraft was inducted into Squadron No. 11 of the IAF. It is one of the oldest squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and is currently based at Vadodara Air Force Station.
The aircraft was unveiled at the hangar after two sliding screens, bearing '11 SQN: Pioneers of C-295 MW', 'Rhinos: The Trailblazers of C-295 MW', and image of the newly-inducted aircraft, moved sideways. One-horned rhino is the emblem of Sqn. No. 11.
The IAF chief had on September 13 received the first of the 56 C-295 transport aircraft two years after India sealed a Rs 21,935-crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure the jets to replace its ageing Avro-748 fleet.
The aircraft had landed in Vadodara on September 20, days after it was handed over to the IAF in the southern Spanish city of Seville.
Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in fly-away condition from its final assembly line in Seville by 2025 and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.
The production of components of these aircraft has already started in the Main Constituent Assembly facility in Hyderabad. These parts will be shipped to the Final Assembly Line in Vadodara which is expected to be operational by November 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the manufacturing facility for C-295 planes in Vadodara in October last year. It will be the first military aircraft to be manufactured in India by a private consortium.
The IAF is procuring the C-295 aircraft to replace its fleet of ageing Avro-748 planes that entered the service over six decades ago.
The C-295 is known to be a superior aircraft used for tactical transport of up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers and for logistic operations to locations that are not accessible to current heavier aircraft. The aircraft can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation.
The aircraft is capable of performing special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties.