India’s Avro Replacement Could Be Problematic

 - July 22, 2014, 2:50 PM
The Airbus C-295 might be the only qualified contender for India’s Avro 748 replacement project. (Photo: Airbus Defence & Space)

The new Indian government has re-issued the request for proposal (RFP) for 56 transport aircraft worth an estimated $2 billion, to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging Hawker Siddeley 748M twin turboprops, known as Avros. The final date for submission of bids is August 28. The contract is expected to be awarded late next year or in early 2016.

The candidates will likely include Alenia with the C-27J, Antonov with the An-32 and Airbus Defence & Space with the C-295. However, a decision on whether Alenia can bid is pending, after the controversial sale of AW101 helicopters by fellow Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland was halted. There are also concerns about Antonov, from war-torn Ukraine. Should the C-295 end up as a sole bidder, the project might be shelved unless the Indian Air Force seeks special approval from the MoD.

This is India’s first solely private-sector project, in which government-owned companies cannot be a lead partner. In this case, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) can be a tier-one supplier, but it will not be the so-called Indian Production Agency (IPA). The successful bidder is to deliver 16 aircraft in flyaway condition in 24 months and manufacture 40 in an Indian partner’s facility within 60 months, with all to be delivered within 120 months of contract signature.

An electronic warfare suite to be integrated on the aircraft includes Bharat Electronic radar warning receiver and missile approach warning system and Bharat Dynamics countermeasure-dispensing system. Tooling, the responsibility of the OEM, will include jigs, fixtures and assembly, comprising 60 percent of the aircraft. Engine and avionics parts will be imported.

“It will be a challenge to motivate Indian suppliers who are insisting on an order of at least 200,” a manufacturer told AIN. He added that the manufacturing facility funded by an OEM with large pockets could open the way for an export industry. “The Avro replacement could be a prelude and follow in the footsteps of the Ruag production model for the Dornier 228, which, except the engine, is outsourced from India,” he said.