India’s Tata group is set to begin making military aircraft in the country in the first such project by a local private company.
The government announced that Tata and Airbus would make C-295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force on Thursday.
The project, valued at 219bn rupees ($2bn; £1.7bn), will be based in the western state of Gujarat.
PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate the manufacturing unit on Sunday.
“This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company,” India’s defence ministry said in a statement. Currently, only state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics makes aircraft for the armed forces.
India is among the world’s largest defence importers and has depended mainly on countries such as Russia for military equipment for decades.
But over the years, the government under Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pushed to reduce the country’s reliance on international imports and boost domestic output
Experts see the Tata-Airbus project as a step towards bolstering Mr Modi’s Make in India campaign – an ambitious high-octane mission to turn the country into a global manufacturing hub.
The defence ministry said the deal offered a “unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry”.
As part of the project, the government September 2021 approved the procurement of 56 C-295 military transport aircraft from Airbus Defense and the Spain-based Space SA.
According to the press release, these aircraft will replace Indian Air Force’s (IAF) ageing Avro fleet but can also be used for civilian purposes.
Airbus will deliver 16 aircraft in flyaway condition between September 2023 and August 2025, while the Tata group will make the rest at the Gujarat facility.
“The first Made in India aircraft is expected from September 2026,” the defence ministry said.