Thursday, January 20, 2011
Airbus bids for IAF's midair refueller contract
NEW DELHI: Airbus Military, a European consortium, on Thursday said it has bid to supply six mid-air refuellers to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF had re-issued the tender in September 2010. The original tender for the air refueller was first issued a couple of years ago, but was cancelled following the finance ministry's objection to the cost put forth by Airbus Military, whose A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft was selected for awarding the contract.
With Boeing not bidding for the tender, Airbus Military is now pitted against the Russian Ilyushin, which has offered the IL-78 for the contract.
The IAF is already operating six of the IL-78 refuellers in its fleet for over half a decade now and the squadron is based at Agra air force base.
Airbus Military's market development head Didier Vernet told reporters here that the company had submitted its proposals for the IAF tender last week. The deadline for responding to the tender expired Jan 12 this year.
He said the firm would submit its offsets proposals for the contract by April. Under the defence procurement procedures, a global firm winning a contract for defence orders worth over Rs 300 crore will have to plough back 30 percent of the deal in Indian defence industry, aerospace, internal security or training sectors.
The IAF is expected to make a follow-on order of the aircraft it chooses as the present tenders or Request for Proposals provide for such a purchase on the basis of the price agreed under the contract.
The new midair refuellers are required by the IAF to augment its existing IL-78 fleet. The air-to-air refuellers are used by air forces for refuelling its fighters and transport aircraft while in flight to enhance the endurance of these platforms.
The midair refuellers are a major force multiplier for air forces so as to keep their fighter jets in air to respond to security threats for longer periods of time.
This time around, the IAF has asked the global manufacturers of midair refuellers to submit their proposals as per life cycle costs.
Vernet, responding to queries if the life cycle costs calculation in the tender will be beneficial, said compared to IL-78s his company's product would be far more economical to operate and maintain.
The A330 MMTT, he said, could be converted for a transport role too within a matter of an hour or two.