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.