Aerospace giant Airbus is planning to set up a helicopter assembling facility in India. The European giant has shortlisted eight states for the facility, which will be relocated from France.
Ashish Saraf, Airbus Group India vice-president for industry development, strategic partnerships and offsets, told Business Standard that the company has offered to assemble helicopters in India over the next three to five years if it gets the contract.
Tamil Nadu is among the eight states being considered. The state has access to a supplier base, owing to the region’s automotive industry. Being a coastal state, it also has an advantage in terms of logistics.
Airbus is planning to assemble its naval utility helicopters, including the Panther, for both domestic and export markets. These helicopters are being used by the navies of 18 countries, including the US Coast Guard.
“We have identified eight different locations in the country, that is all we can say right now,” Saraf said and refused to share any investment figures, adding that it would be a “substantial investment”.
“Airbus has started creating an ecosystem by building a supplier base for the Make in India programme,” said Saraf, otherwise known as the ‘Make in India’ officer for Airbus in India.
“To start with, minimum localisation would be around 40 per cent, according to the strategic partnership model,” he added.
Airbus’s supply base has grown 16 times over the last decade, reaching 46 suppliers in India. The company is still scouting for new suppliers. Sourcing from India in 2017-18 was over $550 million against $500 million the previous year, an increase of around 10 per cent. Saraf said this number will significantly increase with the sourcing of composites.
“These are the suppliers who compete with suppliers from China, Taiwan, South America and eastern Europe, and they win these packages. This makes them a sustainable supplier and they deliver according to our quality standards. For Airbus, right now, this is Make in India,” said Saraf.
The Navy last year had issued a global request for information (RFI) for the procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters and 123 multi-role choppers as part of the strategic partnership model. Airbus has offered its H225M helicopter in response to the Navy’s tender for the multi-role choppers.
According to the new draft defence production policy, India aims to be among the top five countries in aerospace and defence, and plans to increase the value of domestic production nearly three-fold to Rs 1,700 billion by 2025.
Airbus partnered with Mahindra Aerospace in July 2015 for manufacturing military helicopters, according to the company’s website.