The Indian MoD has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the procurement of 56 light transport planes to replace Avro aircraft in service with the Indian Air Force.
Lockheed Martin, Embraer, Boeing, Airbus, Alenia Aeromachi, Illushin and Antonov are among the vendors who could be the likely contenders. The cost of this mega procurement is expected to be INR1300 billion (US$ 2.6 billion).
The RFP calls for 16 aircraft to be brought outright with the remaining 40 being manufactured in India. However, the manufacturing in India is to be done by an Indian private company with technology transfer from the international vendor.
According to a report, this is a major departure from convention where the Indian partner has always been the government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The decision to allow a private player to partner in this project was reportedly taken due to HAL being stretched with helicopter, fighter aircraft and other projects.
Alenia Aermacchi had made a presentation during Aero India 2013 regarding its C27J Spartan being offered as an Avro replacement and EADS has been talking about its CASA C295 for the same program.
Lockheed Martin which has already supplied the C-130J to India is probably better positioned than the others as it could offer the basic version of the C-130 and claim commonality with the C-130J in terms of servicing and spares.
The twin-engine aircraft is planned to have a six to eight tonne payload capacity, cruise at a speed of 800 kilometres per hour with range of about 2,500 kilometres.
The aircraft will feature below the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed Martin C-130J which the IAF has acquired.
The challenge for international vendors will be find a suitable Indian partner from the private industry who has aerospace manufacturing capability. The announcement of the RFP could see a rush of Indian private companies and foreign vendors trying to strike partnership deals.