Wednesday, June 13, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! India’s first private airlifter program faces teething pains

Neelam Mathews
June 13, 2012

With a Request for Proposal awaited for India’s first private medium airlifter project for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to replace 56 Hawker Siddeley HS 748s, the government is facing the reality that is private enterprise – running into losses just won’t do. India’s handful of manufacturers that have been in discussions for this project, say they need a commitment from the Ministry of Defense for at least 200 aircraft before they commit to getting involved. “We need a business case before we invest money in the project,” says one of the Indian manufacturers on condition of anonymity.

The Hawker Siddeley HS 748s were originally designed by the British firm Avro in the late 1950s.

A Request for Information was released in December last year inviting foreign OEMs to bid for a medium transport aircraft only if they could find private Indian partners who would build the aircraft in India through complete transfer of technology. The most likely contenders are Airbus Military C-295 and Alenia Aermacchi C-27J who will transfer full technology to Indian private manufactures. This radical move, driven by the IAF keen to have the airliner flying, will need an amendment in the present Defense Procurement Policy that requires cabinet approval before the RFP is issued, says an MoD official.

 “It is unlikely the Russians will participate, because if the IAF wanted them, they would have ordered more Antonov An-32s. Since Ukraine stopped manufacture, there are few global buyers….There is also doubt that any private company in India wants to get involved with the Russian government,” says a defense official candidly. India is presently upgrading 105 An-32s with improved avionics.

Giuseppe Giordo, CEO of Alenia Aeronautica estimates demand in India will go up to 100 in the future. Last year, in an exclusive interview to us, he indicated the potential of the C-27J in many Asia Pacific markets, including the PhilippinesMalaysia and Australia. “Making India a hub opens possibilities for us to work with Indian partners for Australia (for the C-27J). With an Indian collaboration, we will do some engineering activities in Italy and some in India.”

While government owned defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. is looking to co-produce an airlifter with the Russians in the 20-ton class, India’s privately built 50-seater airlifter will be around 10 tons with a rear ramp and short field capability. The tight production schedule requires the first aircraft be delivered within two years of contract signing, 15 within 24 months and after a year, to be followed by the remaining 40 produced in India at eight per year.

Indian companies that are believed to have shown interest include the Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro and Reliance Industries.

1 comment:

  1. MoD,GoI,looking for self relaince and competency in aerospace sector, through a private industry participation would be more practicle if they are ready to pay price for it.
    And the price is readiness to absorb the part of cost of production.
    Two examples,
    if GoI absorbs ToT and
    permits production and usage of airfield facilties at nominal charges, at one of IAF bases not actively engaged in operations ( Chakeri Kanpur).
    ( I_luv_An32ac)