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12:34 PM, January 25, 2016
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Indian Air Force Stresses Decision On A-330 Refuelling Tanker Acquisition
Royal Australian Air Force A-330 MRTT

Indian Air Force has stressed for a decision from Defense Ministry over the $2 billion acquisition of six Airbus 330 Mid Air Refuelling Aircraft or tankers.

The IAF wants the A-330 MRTT deal to be inked at the earliest to boost strategic reach of its fighters and bombers.

"The IAF believes the case is just going around in circles without any resolution. It is stuck in the CNC (contract negotiation committee) stage, with Airbus being asked to keep on extending the validity of its commercial bid," Times of India news daily quoted an unnamed defense ministry source as saying Monday.

IAF is adding pressure to the central government as the French President Francois Hollande is on a state visit. Airbus group is headquartered in France.

The deal has been put on hold after the government referred the deal to the defense ministry’s vigilance department for clearance in April last year.

The contract with Airbus has been delayed due to the pending inquiries against the European consortium dating back to the mid-1970s. The procurement case was sent to the law ministry for an opinion after a member of parliament wrote to the MoD against it.

The mid-air refuelling tanker would double the strike range of fighters and bombers and would bolster IAF’s strategic reach.

Two-engine Airbus-330 MRTT (multi-role tanker transport) aircraft was selected over the four-engine Russian Ilyushin-78 in January 2013. 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.

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