Indian conglomerate to manufacture helicopters with Airbus
Tata Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, will join forces with France’s Airbus to produce civilian helicopters, New Delhi’s top diplomat stated on Friday during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters that the two companies had signed a deal for the production of H125 helicopters with “a significant indigenous and localisation component.” The firms are already cooperating on building C-295 transport aircraft in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state.
Airbus, also in a statement on Friday, noted that Tata Group will establish a Final Assembly Line (FAL) for H125 helicopters in India, which will take two years to set up. Deliveries will start in 2026. The company added that the aircraft could be exported to other countries near India. The manufacturing location has yet to be decided by the two sides.
As well as being a major civil aviation exporter to India, France is also the country’s second-largest arms supplier after Russia, with New Delhi’s Air Force depending on French fighter jets for several decades.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited India on Thursday and Friday as a guest for Republic Day, celebrated on January 26. During his visit, defense sector discussions were held, including the possibility of French multinational Safran assisting in the manufacture of jet engines in India.
According to India’s ambassador to France, Jawed Ashraf, the Paris-headquartered Safran is “fully willing to do it with a 100% transfer of technology in design, development, certification, production.”
On Friday, Franco-American aircraft engine manufacturer CFM International also reached an agreement with Indian domestic carrier Akasa Air to sell more than 300 of its LEAP-1B engines to power 150 Boeing 737 MAX planes. The deal includes spare engines and a services contract, Akasa Air said in a statement. Akasa, which is based in India’s financial capital Mumbai, previously ordered 76 LEAP-1B-powered 737-8 aircraft – of which 22 are currently in service, according to a report in The Financial Times.
Other key deals during Macron’s visit included a letter of intent signed between India’s Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of France on a ‘Defense Space Partnership’ and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) and France’s Arianespace SAS on space tech, officials said. The two countries also agreed on celebrating 2026 as the ‘India-France Year of Innovation.’
France is keen to bolster collaboration with India across various sectors, from energy to space and defense, despite frictions over their contrasting views on the Ukraine conflict. Unlike France, India has not supported Western sanctions against Russia, and has expanded its engagement with Moscow in the past two years.
Macron’s visit to New Delhi comes just six months after Prime Minister Modi attended France’s Bastille Day Parade as the guest of honor. During that trip, the two countries drew up a bilateral roadmap for the next 25 years.