India’s Tata group is set to begin making military aircraft in the country in the first such project by a local private company.
Tata and Airbus will make C-295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force, the government announced 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. At the moment, only state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics makes aircraft for the armed forces.
India is among the world’s largest defence importers and has for decades largely depended on countries such as Russia for military equipment.
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, vowing 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 in September 2021 had approved the procurement of 56 C-295 military transport aircraft from Airbus Defense and the Spain-based Space SA.
These aircraft will replace Indian Air Force’s (IAF) aging Avro fleet, but can also be used for civilian purposes, according to the press release.
Airbus will deliver 16 aircraft in flyaway condition between September 2023 and August 2025, while the rest will be made at the Gujarat facility by the Tata group.
“The first Made in India aircraft is expected from September 2026,” the defence ministry said.