India's Avro programme to replace obsolete Hindustan Aeronautics-built HS-748 transports will be handled by the nation’s private sector. The decision – taken during a Defence Acquisition Council meeting led by defence minister Arun Jaitley – means state-owned airframer HAL will have no role to play in the estimated $2.2 billion deal.

The procurement of 56 new transports through the Buy & Make route received "acceptance of necessity approval" in July 2012. According to this outline, a foreign original equipment manufacturer would deliver 16 aircraft of the selected type, with an Indian production agency from the private sector to produce the other 40 under license.

“Following the change of government the existing schedule for this programme remains in place, and we will respond to the request for proposals shortly,” says Federico Lacalle, regional sales director, Airbus Defence & Space, Asia Pacific. The company is offering its C295 tactical transport, with Alenia Aermacchi promoting the C-27J. India's bid submission deadline has been extended until 28 August.

New Delhi's requirements will test the capabilities of its fledgling private sector aerospace companies, as its requirement calls for the local partner "to produce 16 aircraft with a minimum of 30% value addition to be achieved in India in the first phase". This figure should rise to 60% for the remaining 24 aircraft, it adds, with the local company to also gain the capability to perform Level D servicing.

India’s private sector aerospace firms are today mainly dependent on small orders from state-run defence firms such as HAL and Bharat Electronics. A major step forward would be required before they are able to undertake full assembly and systems integration tasks.

Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database records the Indian air force as operating 62 HS 748s, the oldest of which was built in 1961.

Source: Flight International