India reached a significant milestone with the arrival of the first C295 aircraft, marking a momentous achievement in the country’s aviation history. This development is the result of a collaboration between European aviation giant Airbus and the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, marking the first instance of an Indian private company manufacturing an aircraft.
Handover Ceremony in Spain
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, received the first C295 aircraft at Airbus’s production facility in Seville, Spain. After this symbolic handover, the aircraft will be flown back to India, where a formal induction ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad on the 25th of September.
Replacing the Ageing Avro Fleet
The C295 aircraft is set to replace the IAF’s ageing Avro fleet. With the capability to carry up to nine tonnes of payload or transport as many as 71 troops, it boasts a maximum cruise speed of approximately 480 kilometers per hour. One of its notable features is a rear ramp for loading and unloading, making it ideal for transporting larger equipment, a capability the Avro lacked.
Versatile Operational Capabilities
The C295 aircraft is highly versatile, capable of operating at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet. It can take off and land on short, soft, rough, and unprepared airstrips, a feat that the Avro couldn’t match. Furthermore, it can perform low-level flight, with a minimum speed of 110 knots. These features make it adaptable to a variety of operational scenarios.
Beyond Transport – Multi-Mission Capability
Beyond its role as a transport aircraft, the C295 can be modified for various missions. It comes equipped with a multi-mission radar that can be weaponized for close air support operations. Additionally, the aircraft can be adapted for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, electronic intelligence (ELINT), and communications intelligence (COMINT) operations, adding to its versatility.
Power and Technology
The C295 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines, ensuring reliable performance. Each of the 56 aircraft in this project will be equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare suite manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. Notably, these aircraft will undergo testing as an integrated system by the TATA consortium, with delivery facilitated through self-certification, a remarkable feat in itself.
Enhanced Performance with Winglets
Airbus has enhanced the C295’s performance with the addition of winglets, which improve takeoff characteristics, especially at hot and high airfields, increase cruise altitudes, endurance, and reduce overall fuel consumption by three to six percent.
Winglets are vertical extensions located at the tips of an aircraft’s wings, serving to enhance fuel efficiency and extend its cruising range. Functioning as miniature airfoils, winglets effectively diminish the aerodynamic drag caused by vortices that form at the wingtips as the aircraft travels through the air.
The C295 features a state-of-the-art cockpit, enabling a full range of operations with a two-person crew. It boasts four 14.1-inch multifunctional touchscreen displays, reconfigurability for the screens, electronic charts and checklists, and system status reports. The cockpit is also compatible with night vision goggles (NVGs), ensuring optimal functionality in various conditions.
Pioneering Self-Reliance in India’s Aviation Industry
For the IAF, the arrival of the C295 aircraft enhances its tactical airlift capabilities. On a national scale, it represents the dawn of a new era in India’s aviation industry, symbolizing the initial strides towards self-reliance in aircraft manufacturing.