Airbus D&S in India

By Team ADU

New Delhi. 14 August 2022.  Timelines, innovation and marketing are the key drivers for Airbus Defence & Space traditionally, but the latest addition of one facet which makes it a sought after manufacturing partner is its commitment to help countries in developing their military capability keeping the mantra of indigenisation in mind. And the Airbus Defence & Space India story is no different. The wait could have been long but the commitment has been steadfast. The fruits of patience are always sweet stands true for Airbus D&S in India.

“Airbus has long been associated with the Indian defence sector and is a key contributor to the swift development of the country’s aerospace ecosystem. “Make in India” is the cornerstone of Airbus’ strategy in India, with the company steadily increasing the country’s contribution to its global product portfolio. Our local presence in India demonstrates our commitment to developing the local ecosystem. The company has set up design, engineering and research facilities in India to leverage the gifted engineering and IT talent pool in the country. More than 45 Indian suppliers provide services and components for several Airbus platforms, including for the entire commercial fleet as well as for various helicopter and defence platforms. Annual procurement from these programmes total some US$650 million, ” stated Venkat Katkuri, Head of Defence and Space, Airbus India and South Asia in an exclusive with Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU).

As India completes 75 years of its independent journey after getting freedom from the British rule, so does it’s story of aviation and defence. And  Airbus is now all set to march ahead on the Indian track , matching steps with the Indian government’s clarion call of indigenisation with the four pronged strategy of making in India, skilling India, bonding over start up India and building a new  India.

He added, “In 2021, India formalised the acquisition of 56 Airbus C295 aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force (IAF) legacy AVRO fleet, opening the doors to the first ‘Make in India’ aircraft manufacturing in the private sector. Our C295 programme is a shining example of the transformational partnership and collaboration between the private and public sectors as well as MSMEs. It will fully facilitate the Government of India’s stated ambition of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in defence manufacturing.”

The IAF will become the 35th C295 operator worldwide. Under the contractual agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain. The subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies. The first sixteen aircraft will be delivered in flyaway condition from Spain within 48 months of signing of the contract and forty aircraft will be manufactured in India by TATA Consortium within ten years of signing of the contract. This means that by September 2026 the first squadron of C- 295 should be operative and flying in the Indian skies. All the IAF C295s will be handed over in transport configuration and equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite.  Keeping in mind TASL’s location in Hyderabad there should be no prizes for guessing the location of the manufacturing line to be the Telangana state capital


“The signing of the C295 contract marks a new dawn in India’s defence industry as it has opened the doors for the first ‘Make In India’ aerospace programme for the private sector. The programme is a unique platform that harmonises and harnesses the tremendous competencies of the private sector, the DPSUs and the MSMEs – the three forces good for an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. We believe in a long-term reliable partnership with the Government of India and the armed forces in particular and India’s aspirations in general. That is why we believe the C295 programme will unlock substantial opportunities for us in defence and related sectors in the years to come, ” Venkat  informed.

After a long wait and what seemed a stagnant deal the Indian government had cancelled the tender for procuring six mid-air refuellers from Airbus for the Indian Air Force, quoting high life-cycle cost, despite of being cleared in both commercial and technical evaluations. But still has not been able to procure the tankers it needs.

“Looking at the country’s fast-growing and promising defence market, we have always been at the forefront in offering our wide range of innovative products. We will also be offering the proven force multiplier A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft to the IAF to meet its long-term strategic requirements and believe that India represents future opportunities for the A400M as well. Airbus also has a heritage of engaging with ISRO and the Indian space ecosystem. With the recently announced and welcome policy reforms, we look forward to deepening this relationship and supporting the Indian private space industry to unleash its full potential while equipping end users with state-of-the-art space technology from the Airbus portfolio (in both Earth Observation and Communication),” concluded Venkat.

A military derivative of the best-selling A330 wide-body, twin engine, the A330 MRTT is considered to be a benchmark for new-generation tanker transport aircraft of the current century. The aircraft undertook its maiden flight on June 17, 2007, and formally entered service on June 1, 2011, with the Royal Australian Air Force that was the launch customer. Other customers for the A330 MRTT are the Royal Air Force (RAF), United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force. South Korea, France and Netherlands have also placed orders which have been seeing deliveries from 2018 onwards. Could be Airbus is a second time lucky on this front?