NEW DELHI — For the first time, India’s Defence Ministry is considering allowing a private-sector defense company or consortium to take the lead on a project to build aircraft under license from a foreign manufacturer.
The project — the Indian Air Force’s purchase from an overseas maker of 56 medium-transport aircraft at a cost of more than $2 billion — was approved July 23 by the ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). The new aircraft will replace the Air Force’s aging Avro medium-transport aircraft.
Tenders are likely to be floated in the next two to three months and are expected to be sent to companies in Russia and Europe, sources said. The Air Force wants twin-engine airlifters in the six-to-eight-ton category, able to cruise at a speed of 800 kilometers per hour with a range of more than 2,500 kilometers.
Under the proposal, the first 16 aircraft would be imported from the original manufacturer in fly-away condition. The next 16 would have 30 percent indigenous components, and 60 percent of the systems and sub-systems in the remaining 24 aircraft would be Indian-made.
State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., India’s sole military aircraft builder, has heretofore managed all such aircraft and helicopter projects for the Defence Ministry.