Saturday, March 24, 2012
India readies to select mid-air refueler
New Delhi : India is readying to select the winner of the $2-billion tender for six mid-air refuelers for its air force, with both the contending planes from European consortium EADS Airbus and Russian Ilyushin clearing the flight trials.
According to informed sources, the Indian defence ministry is now considering the bids to arrive at the lowest bidder in the tender issued in September 2010. India is looking for six refuelers.
The tender had been reissued by the government after the Airbus' A330MRTT was selected by the Indian Air Force as the winner of an earlier tender in 2009.
But the finance ministry objected to the "high cost" for the A330MRTT. So the tender was cancelled in January 2010.
"After three trials in November, we have been informed that we are compliant with the specifications mentioned in the tender," Airbus Defence Capability Marketing vice president Ian Elliot told reporters here.
Ilyushin too has been found complaint, the sources said.
Asked about the finance ministry objections during the previous tendering process, Elliot said the concerns were relating to "capital investment cost."
But now, the lowest bidder for the tender will be worked out on the basis of life cycle cost of operating the plane over several decades.
During flight trials, Airbus had demonstrated midair refueling of Indian Air Force's Sukhoi-30 and Jaguar combat planes on its A330MRTT.
It also similarly demonstrated refueling of Mirage-2000s while contesting the United Arab Emirates tender. India has a fleet of nearly 50 Mirage-2000s. India also has a six-aircraft fleet of IL-78s.