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India approves $10 billion military buying spree in pivot to West

Airbus Defense and Space officially handed over, in fly-away condition, the first of 56 C-295 aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) to begin replacing its aging Avros-748 fleet, Seville, Spain, September 13, 2023. (File photo by Airbus)

India’s defense ministry has approved the procurement of 15 maritime patrol aircraft from Airbus and six air-refuel aircraft 

The initial approval, known as Acceptance of Necessity (AoN), was granted for the procurement of medium-range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission aircraft for both the Navy and the Coast Guard.

The aircraft Airbus C-295 will be built in Spain and India under collaboration between Airbus & India’s TATA Advanced Systems Limited (TASL).

“India formalized the acquisition of 56 Airbus C-295 aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force (IAF) legacy AVRO fleet,” Airbus said in a statement.

“All detailed parts for the C-295 will be manufactured in India under exacting Airbus quality standards,” said Jorge Tamarit Degenhardt, VP, the vice president and head of Airbus Defense and Space’s C295 India Program.

“As per the approval, Airbus Defense and Space is working with TATA Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to produce detailed parts and sub-assemblies at various locations in India,” Airbus said.

“Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain. The remaining 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled” in India by TATA.

The Defense Acquisition Council, the Indian defense ministry’s top body for arms acquisition, also approved the purchase of flight re-fueling aircraft for “enhancing the operational capabilities and reach” of the air force, a statement said on Friday.

Contenders for re-fuellers are Airbus with its A330 multi-role tanker transport & Boeing with its KC-46 Pegasus.

The defense ministry on Friday approved projects worth 845.6 billion rupees ($10.19 billion), ranging from long-range cruise missiles, anti-tank loiter munitions, sonar, radars and torpedoes.

The project the Indian Air Force (IAF) had been looking forward to since long has failed twice in the past to finish off the procurement despite this being seen as a critical project.

Last year, India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Israel’s Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last year to transform commercial aircraft, specifically the Boeing 767, into versatile multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) aircraft within India.

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