Gover­ment to de­clare win­ner in mid-air re­fu­eller com­pe­ti­tion


EADS/Air­bus will be wait­ing with baited breath for an im­pend­ing de­ci­sion on the win­ner of the In­dian Air Force’s mid-air re­fu­eller com­pe­ti­tion. The ten­der, a sec­ond it­er­a­tion af­ter the first was aborted in 2009, is a del­i­cate one for EADS. It’s Air­bus A330 mul­ti­role tanker trans­port (MRTT), which emerged the win­ner in the last com­pe­ti­tion, lost out when the ten­der was scrapped cit­ing the cost of the sys­tem. Air­bus has fielded the same air­craft for the cur­rent com­pe­ti­tion, fac­ing off against the Rus­sian Ilyushin-78M, six of which are al­ready op­er­a­tional with the IAF at its Agra air­base. The Fi­nance Min­istry’s ob­jec­tions on cost in 2009 are not expected to hold up the same way this time around, con­sid­er­ing the dy­nam­ics of cost of own­er­ship and life-cy­cle ex­penses worked into pro­cure­ment pro­cesses. Rus­sia’s pitch has of course been type com­mon­al­ity not just with the ex­ist­ing flight re­fu­elling air­craft, but also with its A-50 PHAL­CON jets and ex­ist­ing heavy trans­ports, all of which are Ilyushin-76 plat­forms.

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