The C-295 tactical air-lifter will soon be manufactured by Airbus-Tata in India and rightly has been chosen to be modified into a Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA) variant for airborne surveillance with C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) capabilities for the Indian Navy by CABS, a DRDO laboratory in Bengaluru.

For C-295 MMMA to become reality, the Navy had to sacrifice its planned purchase of the third batch of six P-8I Neptune Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) for which it could have been required to shell out $2.4Billion but now for the half amount, it can procure at least 12 C-295 MMMA that can be deployed at multiple naval bases around India’s coastline of 7,516 kilometers.

CABS officials have revealed that 70% of the sensors required for this program are similar to the sensors that have already been developed for Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) program for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the same can be used with minor adaptations. CABS already has started testing new Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that can carry out detection and tracking of air and sea surface targets.

C-295 MMMA can be armed with MK 54 Lightweight Torpedoes and two MBDA’s Marte anti-ship missiles underwings to meet its anti-submarine warfare requirements as demonstrated by Airbus. DRDO’s Ultra Violet-based Missile Approach Warning Systems (UVMAWS) will be installed on all Airbus C-295 brought for the IAF and the same might be deployed on the C-295 MMMA along with EO/IR sensors.

C-295 MMMA no doubt won’t have the range of the P-8I, but 1500km range with normal payload and crew will still allow it to effectively cover the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal and if deployed on Andaman and Nicobar islands it could provide 80% coverage of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with a fleet of 12-18 aircraft.

C-295 MMMA also provides India the ability to improve and upgrade its sensor packages whenever required and can work in tandem with the P-8I in scanning for the 2.01 million square kilometers that have vital installations and islands of strategic importance for India.

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