De­ci­sion on tanker com­pe­ti­tion next month


Acrucial com­pe­ti­tion to se­lect a new mid-air tanker for the In­dian Air Force is likely to end next month with the open­ing of bids. EADS, which fields the Air­bus A330 multi-role tanker trans­port, will be watch­ing with baited breath, hav­ing burnt its fin­gers once be­fore: in late 2009, the com­pe­ti­tion’s first at­tempt was scrapped af­ter EADS emerged a front-run­ner on the mat­ter of high fly­away cost, de­spite a stren­u­ous ef­fort by the IAF to con­vince the MoD not to can­cel the ten­der. The com­pany is un­der­stood to have re­worked its strat­egy in the re­floated com­pe­ti­tion with the same plat­form, and will make use of the new fo­cus on own­er­ship/life-cy­cle cost, rather than plat­form cost. It com­petes against the Rus­sian Ilyushin-78M, six of which are al­ready op­er­a­tional with the IAF. Fol­low­ing the float­ing of a fresh ten­der in 2010, field eval­u­a­tion tri­als were con­ducted in Spain in July that year, fol­lowed by In­dian tri­als in Gwalior. Both tankers are un­der­stood to have met all re­quire­ments. The IAF is un­der­stood to have once again stated its pref­er­ence for the A330 MRTT, though it re­mains to be seen how the math­e­mat­ics work out at the MoD.

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