Gandhinagar: France-based aircraft maker Airbus is looking at setting up a plant to manufacture military transport aircraft and helicopters at Dholera in Gujarat, state chief secretary J.N. Singh said on Thursday.

During the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, Airbus signed an MoU with the state government for infrastructure development near the proposed Dholera International Airport. It is about 100 km from the Ahmedabad International Airport, in the Dholera Special Investment Region.

“They had gone to Dholera investment area. They have found the area to be conducive. They have found the place absolutely fine. They have also liked our aerospace and defence policy we have outlined," Singh told PTI. “They are genuinely interested," he added.

He said Airbus is looking at establishing supply chain and related infrastructure for military transport aircraft and helicopters. Airbus has signed an MoU, he said, adding that “it is a statement of understanding and strategic partnership. That is what they have discussed with the chief minister and that is what they have done also".

Although Singh did not put a number to the investment that Airbus is planning, industry experts said such a facility should cost no less than €400 million.

Airbus in a statement said it has signed MoU with “the Government of Gujarat to assist in planning the infrastructure development of Dholera Special Investment Region (Dholera SIR) such that an aerospace and defence manufacturing cluster – particularly an ecosystem of suppliers for assembly, testing, delivery and maintenance of rotary and fixed wing aircraft including Naval Utility Helicopters — can be developed there".

On plans to manufacture military helicopters, it said: “We are in touch with several states to identify the right location for setting up the final assembly line and certainly we are looking at Dholera SIR as one of the potential sites. Obviously, our plan to manufacture military helicopters locally under the ‘Make in India’ initiative depends on us getting an order from the Government of India."

Airbus is looking to build the C295W military transport aircraft alongside Tata and manufacture military helicopters in partnership with Mahindra Defence. It needs 900 acres for building the factory and another 1,000 acres for its suppliers, vendors and township purposes.

Singh said Airbus has discussed with the Gujarat government “a (aero) cluster based thing that they would be the one pioneering it here. They would be putting up certain things and around that anchor many of the other industries can come".

Asked about the timeframe Airbus might be looking at, he said that “whenever this type of interest comes in, (it) means within 6-10 months something concrete (will) takes place. Some particular level of interest has come".

Besides Airbus, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group is also looking at defence manufacturing in the state, he said.

Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company, Reliance Helicopters and Asteria Aerospace Pvt Ltd, among others, have been granted industrial licences to make helicopters and defence related items in the state.

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