Tata Group and Airbus (European aerospace company) have entered into an agreement to jointly manufacture H125 civilian helicopters in India, marking a significant collaboration in the aerospace sector. This announcement coincided with the adoption of a joint defense production roadmap and a defense space partnership between India and France, following discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
French defense major Thales also revealed its plans to establish an avionics Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) unit in Delhi, emphasizing its commitment to bringing advanced technological capabilities to India and providing top-notch services to airline customers.
After a year of negotiations, the India-France Defense Production Roadmap aims to elevate Indian defense producers to the global stage by facilitating access to European technology and exposure to France’s client base in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The roadmap emphasizes collaboration in defense industrial sectors, focusing on co-design, co-development, and co-production to strengthen defense supply chains between the two countries.
The partnership encompasses various domains such as air and space technology, maritime technology (including underwater domain awareness), and equipment and systems related to land warfare. It places a significant emphasis on cutting-edge technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber-defense, and autonomous vehicles and platforms.
Airbus Helicopters, in collaboration with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), will establish a final assembly line (FAL) for H125 civilian helicopters, marking India’s first private helicopter manufacturing facility. Airbus anticipates the FAL to be operational in 24 months, with deliveries of the first ‘made-in-India’ H125s expected to commence in 2026. The location of the FAL will be determined jointly by Airbus and the Tata group.
This proposed helicopter manufacturing facility is the second FAL to be established in India by Airbus and TASL, following the ongoing construction of the C295 military transport aircraft FAL in Vadodara. The initiative aims to address the relatively low number of civilian helicopters in India, with plans to export these ‘made-in-India’ helicopters to neighboring countries.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia expressed his enthusiasm, calling it a “historic day,” while N Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, highlighted the significance of the facility as the final assembly line for the world’s bestselling Airbus H125 single-engine helicopter, catering to both the Indian and export markets.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury emphasized the significance of helicopters in nation-building, stating, “A ‘made-in-India’ civil helicopter will not only be a symbol of the confident New India but will also unlock the true potential of the helicopter market in the country.” The H125, to be manufactured in collaboration with Tata Group, has diverse applications including passenger and goods transportation, emergency medical services (HEMS), disaster management, law enforcement, tourism, and aerial work missions. Faury highlighted the H125’s role in providing last-mile connectivity to remote areas, contributing significantly to India’s regional connectivity scheme, Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN), and promoting the tourism sector.
Thales India’s Vice-president and Country Director, Ashish Saraf, described the decision to establish an avionics Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) unit in Delhi as a “key initiative,” expressing full support for India’s domestic defense manufacturing. While not providing a direct response regarding India’s planned procurement of Rafale-M fighter jets and Scorpene submarines from France, Saraf emphasized Thales’s pride in being a member of the Rafale team.
In the realm of space collaboration, India and France strengthened their ties, with a letter of intent focusing on space situational awareness to address the challenges posed by the increasingly crowded upper atmosphere. The collaboration extends to areas such as collision avoidance, earth monitoring, remote sensing, communications, and broadcasting. New Space India Limited (NSIL) and Arianespace, a French commercial launch service provider, formed a partnership for producing, assembling, and integrating launch vehicles. Additionally, agreements were signed for joint research in decarbonized hydrogen, applied mathematics, digital technologies, and precision agriculture between the Indian Department of Space and French institutions.
China Urges Iran to Exercise Restraint Over Houthis Amid Escalating Ship Attacks – Read the Full Story.