Air India 001 that flew the Prime Minister and his delegation from New Delhi to Paris, and then from Paris to Toulouse to the Airbus facility, is a Boeing 747-400.
Air India still flies wide-bodied Boeings on long-haul flights, though for the Australian sector, some Airbus aircraft are being used.
Airbus is the preferred choice for new entrants Vistara and Air Asia, as it is with the budget carrier IndiGo. Though there are more Boeings flying globally, Indian carriers prefer the sleek bodied Airbus jets.
Airbus is in negotiations with several A350 customers like Thai Airways, European and Chinese carriers
Both aviation majors are vying for a larger slice of the pie in India.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the Toulouse facility is sure to be seen as a major encouragement for the French aviation industry.
Besides selling commercial aircraft to private players, Airbus is also in the market to sell to the Indian defence forces. It is keen to sell its military choppers to replace the aging Chetak fleet.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-manufactured Chetak is the Indian version of the the Aerospatiale Alouette III, a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by Sud Aviation.
HAL has manufactured over 300 units of the helicopter under license. These helicopters are primarily used by the Indian Armed Forces in training, transport, CASEVAC (Casualty Evacuation), communications and liaison roles.
The Chetak is being replaced by HAL Dhruv in the armed forces.
An option to re-engine the HAL Chetak with the Turbomeca TM 333-2B engine for high-altitude operations in the Himalayas was considered, but not pursued.
In 1986, the Indian Government created the Army Aviation Corps and most Chetak operating in AOP Squadrons were transferred from the Air Force on November 1, 1986. The Air Force continues to fly armed Chetaks in anti-tank role as well as for CASEVAC and general duties.
HAL has also exported Chetak helicopters to Namibia and Suriname. India has donated used Chetak helicopters to countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal.
Airbus Helicopters is in discussion with Indian companies to finalize teaming arrangements for various helicopter programs, including Naval Utility Helicopter, the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter as well as the Naval Multi-Role Helicopter
Airbus is also involved in the structural integration of the Rotodome radar being developed for the A 330.
The Rotodome Radar is an airborne early warning and control (AEW and C) system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles over long ranges and perform command and control of the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.
AEW and C units are also used to carry out surveillance, including over ground targets and frequently perform C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Air Traffic Controller given military command over other forces.
When used at altitude, the radar on the aircraft allows the operators to detect and track targets and distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft much farther away than a similar ground based radar.
Like a ground-based radar, it can be detected by opposing forces, but because of its mobility, it is much less vulnerable to counter-attack.
India and France have reportedly been keen on the sharing of radar data in the Indian Ocean.
India is reportedly setting up a grid of coastal surveillance radars in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which should help monitoring the region.
France has apparently expressed an interest in sharing data from its surveillance systems.
According to reports, apparently, the Indian Navy is keen on the French proposal and would like it to be part of an ambitious plan to set up a 24-nation radar grid in the IOR to monitor all traffic, civilian and military.
The Prime Minister toured the Airbus facility where he was informed that procurement from India is set to grow further as the Group plans to award additional manufacturing and engineering work packages to Indian companies.