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Alenia drops India Avro replacement tender

Alenia Aermacchi will not bid for an Indian air force contract to replace India’s Hindustan Aeronautics-built HS-748 Avro transports.

The deal for 56 medium transports is worth an estimated $2.2 billion, and Alenia’s C-27J was seen as a strong contender for the requirement.

A company spokesman tells Flightglobal that “the Indian air force Avro replacement programme calls mainly for a basic medium transport aircraft and therefore Alenia Aermacchi decided to not participate to the tender.”

The decision not to respond to India’s request for proposal (RFP), coupled to a lack of interest from other airframers, leaves Airbus Defence and Space as the sole bidder. It is pitching its C295 twin-turboprop medium airlifter along with Indian partner Tata Advanced Systems.

Alenia raised concerns about the viability of the programme. It believes the Avro replacement tender “may represent an opportunity to develop a long-term industrial collaboration, however the foreseen fleet size indicated in the tender today, may not allow a comprehensive satisfactory industrial return oriented to a serious technology transfer.”

New Delhi has set stringent requirements that will likely test the capabilities of the designated Indian production agency with a minimum value addition of 30% being called for in the first phase of license production for 16 aircraft. This value addition by Indian companies for the final 24 aircraft will increase to 60%.

Airbus has said that Tata Advanced Systems will undertake structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing, and management of the indigenous supply chain in India. It is likely to be an uphill task for both Airbus and its Indian partner Tata to ensure that aircraft manufactured in India meet the stringent certification standards expected by the Indian air force.

The Avro replacement program for 56 transports is one of three major aircraft programs that will be handled by India’s private sector aerospace companies along with the requirement for 106 Pilatus PC-7 Mk II basic trainer aircraft (BTA) for the Indian air force and 197 reconnaissance & surveillance (RSH) rotorcraft for both the Indian army (133) and Indian air force (64).

Hindustan Aeronautics’ will have no role to play in the Avro replacement programme. This follows a decision taken by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) earlier this year. However, in August last year, the airframer had issued a request for information (RFI) for a modern fuel efficient engine to replace the existing Rolls Royce Dart engines on 59 HS-748 aircraft currently operational with the Indian air force.

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