Airbus C295: Indian Air Force’s latest tactical transport aircraft
The Airbus C295 is a new-generation transport aircraft, designed for superior reliability and operational efficiency for a variety of tactical and logistical missions, with excellent track-record as a reliable work-horse.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has just taken the delivery of its first Airbus C295 medium-duty, tactical transport aircraft from the European manufacturer. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft, assembled at Airbus’ production site in Seville, Spain, will fly to Delhi in the next few days piloted by IAF-Airbus crew.
In 2021, India finalised an agreement worth INR 21,935 crore to acquire 56 Airbus C295 to replace aging fleet of IAF Avros-748 aircrafts. While 16 of these aircrafts will be received by IAF in fully-built, fly-away condition from Spain, the rest of the order will be assembled by the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India under industrial partnership.
For this purpose, a Final Assembly Line (FAL) is being set up in Vadodara, which is expected to become operational in November 2024. The first ‘Make in India’ C295 will be ready by September 2026, while last aircraft of the 56-units order will be fulfilled by August 2031, according to the manufacturer.
Robust and versatile design
Conceived by now-defunct Spanish aircraft manufacturer CASA, the C295 is a technically-sound aircraft that is designed for utmost reliability and operational efficiency for a range of tactical and logistical missions.
The airplane’s robust and lightweight construction using advanced materials like carbon-fibre composites significantly enhance its performance. The flexibility of 12.69-metre long pressurised cabin offers easy and quick adaptation depending on the mission profile.
Further, the aircraft’s high-wing configuration enhances cargo handling, ground visibility, and improved stability during flight. Its short take-off and landing (STOL) abilities enables operation in austere and soft airstrips with minimal ground support in remote locations.
The C295 transporter also boasts advanced avionics suite and self-protection systems, including state-of-the-art cockpit technology and radar and missile warning systems. The India-spec variant features an indigenous electronic warfare suite and a Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS), which is said to be state-of-the-art and highly efficient in tactical operations.
With a maximum payload capacity of 9 tonnes at a top cruising altitude of 30,000 ft. and speeds as high as 260 knots, the Airbus C295 can achieve an operational range of about 5,650 kms in one go.
The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines, offering a peak power of 2,645 SHP (1,972 kW) each. The turbines are acclaimed for their excellent manoeuvrability, outstanding hot-and-high performance, and fuel efficiency to support very long endurance of up to 13 hours aloft.
The IAF is set to become the largest operator of the Airbus C295 transport aircraft in the world as of now. This new-gen aircraft is expected to enhance IAF’s logistics and airborne surveillance capabilities, allowing for efficient transport of troops, cargo, and equipment even in non-military and humanitarian missions in diverse environments.
Airbus claims to have garnered 283 orders for the C295 so far, with more than 210 aircrafts already in service with 41 operators across the globe. Some of the leading fleets deploying this aircraft includes air forces of Eqypt, Poland, Canada, and Spain. This clearly proves that the C295 is an able work-horse with excellent track record for reliable and effective real-world operations.