Airbus, Ilyushin To Have Boeing As Competitor In Indian MRTT Contest

  • Our Bureau
  • 07:47 AM, November 16, 2016
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Airbus, Ilyushin To Have Boeing As Competitor In Indian MRTT Contest
Airbus, Ilyushin, Boeing likely to be part of Indian MRTT competition

Boeing is likely to compete with its new multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) KC-46A Pegasus alongside Airbus and Russian Ilyushin for the Indian MRTT requirement.

India has called off the MRTT contest twice so far. "The MoD is re-launching the tender in order to supply the IAF with the state-of-the-art aerial tankers, not to acquire Russian aircraft,” a MoD source had said after India had cancelled the contest in July this year.

"We have examined this deal very carefully and the [budgetary] approval has been rejected thrice by the Indian finance ministry," the MoD official said.

"This is indeed a setback to us, as we want the MRTT aircraft desperately, and a fresh [global] procurement will take at least five more years", a senior Indian air force official had said earlier.

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.

Boeing’s KC-46A contested against Airbus A330 and IAI’s converted B767-200ER MRTT design in the South Korean aerial refuelling tanker project in June 2015. India called off the deal with Airbus 15 days later. KC-46A made its first flight on the same day.

In September this year, US approved a possible sale of KC-46A aerial refueling aircraft and related equipment, training, and support for $1.9 billion to Japan.

Japan had requested the sale of four KC-46A aerial refueling aircraft. Each aircraft is powered by two Pratt &Whitney Model 4062 (PW4062) Turbofan engines. The sale includes one additional spare PW4062 engine.

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (OAK) is offering its newest Ilyushin Il-78MK-90 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) to both domestic and foreign potential customers. The aircraft was demonstrated at the Army 2016 military technical forum held outside Moscow in September 2016. 

Il-78MK-90 is a further development of the Ilyushin Il-78M The updated plane have retained the highest performances of its predecessor and received several new step changes. The PS-90A-76 jet engines integrated with Il-78MK-90 meet the requirements of the United Nations` International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the area of noise and exhaust emissions. They also allow drastic increasing of the flight range and reducing of the plane`s specific fuel consumption. The Il-78MK-90 MRTT can take off from both hard surface and dirt surface runways. The aircraft have received line replaceable modules that increase its flexibility. Therefore, the plane can be used to airdrop personnel and cargoes, to fight fires, to transport injured servicemen, and to administer medical aid. 

"India`s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has terminated the program to acquire six A330 MRTT aerial tankers from the Airbus Defence and Space Company. We are planning to re-launch the relevant tender. The Ministry will consider other options, for instance, KC-767 by Boeing or Il-78M-90A by Ilyushin together with A330 MRTT," RUaviation reported quoting an unnamed source as saying in September this year.

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