T hree leading industry organizations have recommended the Tata Group to lead the development of a replacement for the Indian Air Force (IAF) Avro HS 748 Medium Transport Aircraft.
In a presentation made to senior IAF officials in July, representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) recommended the nomination of the Tata Group as the Production Agency (PA), under Paragraph 19 of the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP), to form a consortium for the development and production of the replacement aircraft.
Citing limitations like a historical lack of opportunity that has resulted in an impoverished track record for Indian private industry, process certifications to international aviation standards and a lack of government support for entry of private industry for strategic aviation projects, the representation also pointed out that inherent delays in the defense procurement process lead to ‘bunching up of opportunities’, that have left Indian industry , so far, unable to compete.
The industry representation recommended the Buy and Make (Indian) route under the DPP to ensure Indian industry would be the prime bidder and recipient of Transfer of Technology. They recommended this over the Buy and Make process, under which only Defense Public Sector Units and Raksha Udyog Ratnas can be nominated as the PA and recipient of technology from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
They also pointed out that the Buy and Make process only mandates offsets, while under the Buy and Make (Indian) route ‘end-to-end manufacturing, assembly and integration facilities can be set up indigenously’.
Admitting that, as things stand, no Indian vendor would be able to meet the parameters or Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs), citing lack of opportunity thus far, they said Indian vendors in collaboration with OEM partners would be able to satisfy the requirements.
Taking a leaf from the Chinese experience in developing the Comac ARJ21 regional airliner, they also said that Indian industry consortia would be fully capable of meeting these requirements in three to five years.
A year back, India and Russia signed an agreement to jointly develop a Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) via a joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and Rosoboronexport.
The two countries plan to manufacture 205 of these aircraft and will share the expected cost of USD 600.70 million for its development.
The twin-engined aircraft is planned to have a 15-20 ton payload capacity, maximum take-off weight of 65 ton, cruise speed of 800 kilometers per hour (almost 500 miles per hour), range of 2,500 kilometers to 2,700 kilometers (between around 1,500 miles to 1,700 miles) and a service ceiling of 12 kilometers (over seven miles).