Airbus and the Indian MoD are set to sign a contract to procure the multirole tanker transporter (MRTT) aircraft based on the A330 platform.
Well informed officials told Defenseworld.net Delhi correspondent that the contract negotiations committee has completed discussions with Airbus Defence and Space executives and the contract signing could happen “anytime, most probably after the conclusion of Aero India 2015 in Bangalore."
After the contract conclusion, India is expected to receive six aircraft over a period of 2-4 years with an option for six more aircraft. The MRTT is expected to increase the combat range of India’s fighter aircraft such as the Su-30MKI, the Mirage-2000 and the proposed Dassault Rafale.
The MRTT request for proposal was issued in 2008, and the European consortium, Cassidian (Now Airbus Defence and Space), had bid with its Airbus A330 and was selected over the Russian entry, Il 78. The proposal to buy Airbus MRTT aircraft was sent to the finance ministry with a price tag of almost US$2billion.
The finance ministry had baulked at the high price of the European aircraft and sought the defence ministry to seek buyers afresh. A new RFP was released in September 2010. The budget was increased to $2 billion and included lifecycle costs in the price arguing that the Airbus plane would work out cheaper in the long term over its Russian competitor if lifecycle costs were to be considered.
Airbus was selected as the preferred vendor in 2013 under the new RFP and contract negotiations started sometime later.