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Old 10th September 2021, 17:58   #1
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Default Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

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Quote:
• The union cabinet committee on security Wednesday cleared the long-pending project by Airbus-Tata to build for the Indian Air Force 56 C-295 transport aircraft for over Rs 21,000 crore (around $3 billion).

• It will be the first time an Indian private sector company will manufacture a military aircraft, albeit with the transfer of technology from a foreign firm, breaking the domestic monopoly of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
Sixteen of these aircraft will be delivered from Spain in a flyaway condition by Airbus, within two years of the signing of the actual contract. The remaining 40 will be manufactured in India by the Tata Consortium within 10 years.

• The C-295 project, which has been pending for almost a decade, will replace the Avro aircraft first inducted in the early 1960s as well as take on some “tasks” of the ageing AN-32 fleet, TOI reports.

• The project was first approved in May 2015 by the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) headed by the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar.
Source: TOI Newsletter
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Old 10th September 2021, 22:28   #2
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Kudos to this Govt for wading through the self created bureaucratic hurdles and approving this path breaking order of an Indian private player building and delivering a military aircraft without any involvement or bureaucratic turf wars from HAL.

After 75 years we have, in aviation at least*, finally woken up to the fact that patriotism, national commitment and ability to deliver to the nation is not a preserve of the public sector alone. For those of us, like me, who have toiled at the coal face with this entrenched attitude it is hard to explain what a fundamental shift this is in top level policy and the message it will send down the chain and the opportunities this will open for more such deals.

The CN-295 is in my opinion the best of the slate available today and well suited to the utility and light transport role we need it for. Going by the IAF's track record with military transports the CN-295 will be with us possibly till the 2060s. It is, as many readers know, a development of the CN-235, itself a very successful world beater. My guess is that eventually the IAF order will swell and the next mark {developed for us?} could feature engines at least 20% more powerful to enable the beefed up CN-295 to replace the venerable An-32 in the extreme hot and high roles. Our youngest An-32 is getting close to 35 years old and the average age of our Avro fleet is 45+ years!. The CN-295 hasn't come a moment too soon. This ageing fleet also reflects the way our bureaucracy, like in Yes Minister, won't close a decision nor will it let the politicians do it. Some of this is a direct result of the fear of the overbearing CAG, CBI etc.

This aircraft can serve with development as a anti-submarine platform, anti-ship patrol aircraft, electronic warfare and surveillance machine, Airborne Early warning & Control aircraft amongst others. I wish we exploit it to the fullest. 56 aircraft is a small order for such an large initiative and $ investment.

Quote:
Wingspan: 84'

Length: 80'

Payload: 73 troops or 48 paratroops or 27 medevac stretchers; 7 tonnes normal

Max Take-Off and Landing weights: 21 tonnes

Powerplants: Pratt & Whitney PW127G's turning ~2600 shp with emergency boost of ~2900 shp. While 2600 shp is what goes out of the main prop the ESP ie effective shaft horsepower is 3200. This adds in the working energy of the exhaust pushing at the back.

Range: 850 nm (~1500+ kms)

Cruise: 260 knots (~480 kmph)
* the Navy followed by the Army went down this path with indigenous products a decade ago. But the IAF was nailed down by very influential PSU lobbies.

The Avro HS.748 which India signed in to buy and assemble in India is replete of the terrible Govt overhang the Armed Forces lived with in the late 1950s and early 1960s with Krishna Menon as Defence Minister. He signed an agreement with the British Govt to procure the Avro without consulting the IAF at all or any of its technical experts. When PC Lal an IAF officer with spine strongly protested Krishna Menon had him sacked. A few days literally before his last day India lost the Indo-China war of 1962 and it was the wretched Krishna Menon who got sacked and PC Lal was re-instated. Fortunate for India because he was Air Chief in the 1971 war and helped lead the country to an unqualified victory!

While a reliable & rugged machine the Avro was not suited for military transport work lacking as it did a rear ramp, high tail and engines of adequate power. We became the largest customer of the Avro by a mile with HAL assembling roughly 89 of the 380 built in total.

Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft-4650dc3626394de4dbd1cdff8c6487be.jpgSource: airliners.net
Just look at the planform of that wing. I love its modern design. Even though its Max T.O. weight is only marginally above the Avro it carries over 35% more payload a 30% longer distance. That is achieved by the combination of a three shaft turboprop, six bladed propellers and the wing. The story of every aircraft starts with the wing.
Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft-portuguese_air_force_c295_arrives_riat_fairford_10thjuly2014_arp.jpgOwner: Adrian Pingston

Last edited by V.Narayan : 10th September 2021 at 22:39.
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Old 11th September 2021, 14:03   #3
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

The 56 number while sounding low, is a good start - considering the Avro's are long in the tooth. This will provide an airframe to airframe replacement. As TATA Aerospace ramps up their production locally, I believe we could see more orders to replace the An-32's which after their mid-life upgrades will start retiring sometime this decade. The C-295 provides a good replacement to this venerable workhorse as well in terms of payload, rough-airfield capability and hopefully ruggedness.

The IAF is slowly but surely moving to standardize its fleet.
Attack aircraft following the light (Tejas Mk1/A), Medium (Tejas Mk2, ORCA, Rafale, Mig-29) and Heavy (Su-30).
Transport - C295 (Light/Medium), C-130 (Medium) and C-17/ IL76 (Heavy).
Helos - LUH/ Ka-226 (Light/ Support), Dhruv Mk4 (Light/ Medium), Mi-17V5/ IMRH (Medium) and Chinooks (Heavy).
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Old 13th September 2021, 10:29   #4
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Apologies for the novice question, Can such an airframe be adapted to create a larger civilian version?

With the increasing number of airports in smaller cities and growing acceptance of affordable air travel, such an aircraft should have decent demand in the domestic aviation sector.
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Old 13th September 2021, 10:54   #5
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Another novice question: Why is it that the transports have not migrated to the "Jet" age? Why do they use turboprops still?

Cost is the reason?

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lsjey
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Old 13th September 2021, 11:32   #6
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by lsjey View Post
Another novice question: Why is it that the transports have not migrated to the "Jet" age? Why do they use turboprops still?

Cost is the reason?

Regards,
lsjey
Turbo-Props can take off and land at 'Short' Runways, 'Unpaved' Runways etc., which Turbo-Fans cannot.
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Old 14th September 2021, 16:06   #7
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
Apologies for the novice question, Can such an airframe be adapted to create a larger civilian version?

With the increasing number of airports in smaller cities and growing acceptance of affordable air travel, such an aircraft should have decent demand in the domestic aviation sector.
Military airframes are generally designed to be different from Civilian airframes. Externally the differences typically are - Rearward Opening Ramp (Loading/ Unloading men/material), Larger doors. stronger undercarriage.
The differences you dont see are - additional spars in the 'load/ stress' locations such as wing root, floor. Larger/multiple 'control' surfaces.
Overall, this adds to a lot of additional weight. While the primary focus of a passenger aircraft is higher FE/seat (Lower TCO per seat), lower maintenance costs a military designer will probably target ruggedness, better load management (e.g. commercial aircraft have 'planned/ balanced' loads while military aircraft could have 'unbalanced' loads such as a heavy vehicle at the back (needing stronger floor structure also), etc.
Commercial aircraft try to make stuff as light as possible (do google about how Lufthansa saved aircraft weight by reducing a few hundred grams per seat).
Having said that we do have comparable aircraft providing commercial service (ATR 42/72, Bombardier Dash8) that are used by Indian operators.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lsjey View Post
Another novice question: Why is it that the transports have not migrated to the "Jet" age? Why do they use turboprops still?

Cost is the reason?

Regards,
lsjey
Cost is one reason. Turboprops are efficient over short haul, more resistant to 'FOD' - Foreign object damage in rough fields. Better short field performance easier to maintain

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
Turbo-Props can take off and land at 'Short' Runways, 'Unpaved' Runways etc., which Turbo-Fans cannot.
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Old 20th September 2021, 14:33   #8
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by lsjey View Post
Another novice question: Why is it that the transports have not migrated to the "Jet" age? Why do they use turboprops still?

Cost is the reason?

Regards,
lsjey
Most of the propeller aircrafts (in civilian field) like ATR, Bombardier are Turbo-prop. Which means they have already migrated to "Jet age". The propellers are not driven by diesel or gasoline piston engines - but actually driven by kerosene (ATF) fueled gas turbine.

There is nothing inherently inferior about the Propellers though. You might be aware of geared turbo-fan, that is supposed to be advancement over the regular turbo-fan in terms of weight reduction and improved efficiency.
Geared turbo-fan engine is, loosely speaking, a turbo-prop engine within nacelle.
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Old 24th September 2021, 15:30   #9
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Today's tweet from Ratan Tata on this matter ...

https://twitter.com/RNTata2000/statu...123039240?s=08

So things are moving, looking forward to it, heralds a new era!
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Old 25th September 2021, 20:22   #10
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

Airbus' official artists rendition of the CN-295 in IAF colours. Beautiful.
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Old 25th September 2021, 23:12   #11
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Default Re: Tata Consortium to make military transport aircraft

A request to the experts here. Can you post how does our military transport fleet compare with that of our adversaries? It will be good to see some unbiased views. For example, will these help transport the new Arjun MBTs that weigh ~68 tons? How many can they take at a time?

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Old 26th September 2021, 08:09   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsjey View Post
A request to the experts here. Can you post how does our military transport fleet compare with that of our adversaries? It will be good to see some unbiased views. For example, will these help transport the new Arjun MBTs that weigh ~68 tons? How many can they take at a time?

Regards,
lsjey
I'm not an expert but I'll still attempt to answer. First our own lift capability. Here I'm referring only to heavy, medium & light lift both fixed wing and rotary wing. The latter is very very important in our case given the vast expanse of mountain borders we need to defend. I'm ignoring utility transports and light vertical lift.

The chart below depicts where we were in 1990 and where we are today. As readers can see in fixed wing lift we have slipped in numbers and tonnes of lift capability too. The 1990 numbers are from memory so please allow for a 10% error margin where I have put the ~symbol. Unlike fast combats where from circa 2005 we dawdled and waddled with indecision in the military fixed wing arena since early 1990s we had no choice with the USSR gone, IL-76 out of production and almost no competent medium or heavy lift aircraft available to buy outside of the Americans. And c.1980 we had thrown away the opportunity to license build the rugged and reliable An-32 which the Antonov bureau for all practical purposes had designed keeping our needs in mind. If we had done that our license built {dreams, dreams} An-32 Mk II could have been built today to at least partially plug the numbers gaps that now exist though of course qualitatively they could not do the role of a C-17 or C-130J.

Ideally we should buy four more squadrons of C-130J's and 40 more Chinooks to deal with the real threat of an overtly aggressive China.

China's PLA Air Force has ~40 heavy lifters, 100 medium lifters and ~60 light lifters - fixed wing; and 34 heavy vertical lifters in rotary wing.

Lifting a Arjun MBT or T-90 MBT though popular with the press as a measure is only one component or role of military lift - visible but not necessarily the most critical. What is critical for a front will vary with situation. Also in our case lifting MBTs has meaning only to limited high plateau areas in Ladakh and maybe some very limited spots in Arunachal. But to answer your question each C-17 can lift one fully equipped Arjun or one T-90 at a time. Each IL-76 could lift one empty T-72 at a time. Hope this helps. I look forward to the inputs of other members.
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Last edited by V.Narayan : 26th September 2021 at 08:10.
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Old 26th September 2021, 10:29   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
since early 1990s we had no choice with the USSR gone, IL-76 out of production and almost no competent medium or heavy lift aircraft available to buy outside of the Americans.
Thank you sir, quite the eye-opener. I've always assumed that the IAF only ever operated the 17 IL-76s currently in operation (same for the Mi-26s), had no idea that we operated a larger force of 40 IL-76s in the 90s.

There could be an argument that the C17s have a much higher payload capacity (77.5 tonnes vs 48 tonnes approx. according to wikipedia), but from an operational point of view, I'm not sure if helps to have fewer numbers of an aircraft with a larger payload capacity.
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Old 26th September 2021, 23:48   #14
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Thanks, @V.Narayan for your post. Very informative. How badly has IAF fallen in terms of machines!

In the 90s, India was doing very badly on the economy front. Hence, it is understandable to expect a good amount of erosion in our capability build-up. But apathy in 2000 and onward is very sad.

No wonder, there is only AUKUS and no INAUKUS. Our base capabilities suck.

Regards,
lsjey

Last edited by lsjey : 26th September 2021 at 23:50.
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