IAF eyes private vendors to replace Avro fleet


Bangalore : For the first time in its service, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will buy transport aircraft from private vendors to replace its ageing Avro fleet, its chief said Tuesday.

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“We will release this month an RFP (request for proposal) to acquire 56 cargo aircraft from the private sector for replacing the indigenously-built Avros, which will be phased out,” Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said at an aerospace event here.

Of the 56 aircraft, 16 will be procured off-the-shelf and the remaining 40 will be built in the country by a private consortium of overseas and domestic vendors.

Estimated to cost a total of about $3 billion (Rs.16,000 crore), the defence ministry’s acquisition council has recently allowed the air force to float a global tender to purchase a twin-engine cargo aircraft in six-eight tonne class, with a cruise speed of 800 km per hour and a range of 2500-2800 km.

The vintage Hawker Siddeley 748M Avros, built by the state-run defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) during the 1960s, were inducted into the IAF transport fleet for ferrying its personnel as well as heavy equipment.

The Avros are also being used for rescue and relief missions.

“Acquisition from non-PSUs (public sector undertakings) will encourage the Indian private sector to design and develop a modern transport aircraft for military operations,” Browne said at the international seminar on “Aerospace Products – Challenges in Design to Development”, being held ahead of the ninth edition of the biennial Aero India trade event from Wednesday.

The programme will also enable the vendors to service the aircraft besides encouraging small and medium enterprises to develop parts, sub-systems and accessories, as the first 16 aircraft will have 30 percent indigenous component and 60-80 percent in the remaining 40 aircraft.

Airbus Military with its C295 and Alenia Aermacchi with its C-27J are likely to be in race for the multi-million dollar deal.