India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to begin contract negotiations for the purchase of 56 Airbus Defence and Space (DS) C295 medium transport aircraft (MTA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to replace the service's ageing fleet of Avro 748M transports.
Indian Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa was quoted by the Indo-Asian News Service on 24 March as saying that contract negotiations for the C 295s "are likely to commence shortly".
Industry officials estimate the MTA tender to be worth around INR119.29 (USD1.78 billion).
The MTA programme involves a joint venture (JV) between Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) that will import 16 C295s and build the remaining 40 locally.
In accordance with the 2013 MTA tender, 24 of these 40 aircraft are to be imported in kit form for local assembly and include a 30% indigenous content, the latter of which is set to double in the remaining 16 platforms.
User trials for the C295 were successfully completed in early 2016, and official sources told Jane's that they expect the Airbus-TASL deal to be inked during the 2017-18 financial year. Aircraft deliveries are expected to commence some 36 months later.
Industry sources told Jane's on condition of anonymity that the number of C295s purchased by India could increase to "well over 60" as the paramilitary Border Security Force and the Indian Coast Guard are also considering acquiring them.
The MoD's Defence Acquisition Council had approved the Airbus-TASL JV in May 2015, even though it had emerged as the sole contender after seven other original equipment manufacturers declined to respond to the MoD's bid.
The MoD also rejected demands by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to be appointed prime contractor for the C295 programme, as the IAF had expressed doubts over its efficiency and ability to complete projects within budget and on schedule.