If the Indian Air Force(IAF) has its way, then India could see a private consortium coming up for the first time in military aviation.
The $3 billion proposal to buy 56 transport aircraft to replace its fleet of aging Indian-made Hawker Siddeley 748M Avro aircraft has already got a clearance by the ministry of defence.
The Indian Air Force Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Tuesday, on the eve of the Aero India 2013, announced that the RfP for the replacement of 56 Avros in the air force will be issued by end of this month.
As reported by FE earlier, all the 56 Avros in service are scheduled to be phased out. IAF has given a proposal to MoD that they should exploit private industry in finding a replacement for these aircraft.
According to market estimates, the entire Avro replacement programme would be in the range of about $3 billion (approx Rs 13,500 crore) with the IAF's requirement of about 60 planes.
While several private companies have shown interest in the programme, there have also been some foreign proposals, especially from Ukrainian firm Antonov for a possible programme for replacing Avro.
The MoD's acquisition council gave the go-ahead to issue a global tender to procure the aircraft, of which the first 16 will be bought off the shelf likely from a foreign manufacturer. The remaining planes will have to be built in India through a partnership deal with indigenous aviation manufacturers.
The next 16 aircraft will have to have 30 % indigenous components while the remaining 24 planes will have 60 per cent locally procured and produced items.
Interestingly, state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited may not be in a position to participate in this programme as it is busy with projects, such as the SU-30MKI production and upgrades of Indian Air Force's aircraft fleet, including the Mirage, MiG 29 and Jaguar aircraft.
However, two aircraft manufacturers – Airbus Military with its C295 and Alenia Aermacchi with the C-27J – are expected to be the front-runners for the contract.
Whichever foreign company wins, it will likely work with a private Indian company. The partnership element of the deal would help create India's first airframe manufacturer.
The Hawker Siddeley 748M Avro aircraft was built by the company's subsidiary Avro and first flew in 1960. It was designed as an airliner but adopted for military transport with a view to replace aircraft operators' aging DC-3 Dakotas.