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Airbus Military offers A330 MRTT aircraft to India


The A330 Multi-role Transport Tanker aircraft. An Airbus Military photo

MADRID (PTI): As India seeks to buy new air-to-air refuellers to boost its strategic reach, European defence major EADS has announced it would offer its new state-of-the-art A330 MRTT “at competitive prices” for the reopened multi-billion dollar contract.

India is seeking to buy six more air-to-air refueller to augment its fleet of six Russian IL-78 tankers and the European consortium Airbus Military said it would offer its new Multi-role Transport Tanker aircraft A330 MRTT “at competitive prices.”

The European tanker would come with Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS), a technology which only the Americans have so far. The ARBS system enables refueling even in adverse weather and day or night.

It uses the stereoscopic vision and laser based infrared lighting system – a distinct advantage for India as it is set to acquire 126 advanced fighters.

“The Russian refuellers with IAF don’t have this capability,” Airbus officials said.

“We are offering the new A330 MRTT as it provides the best value for money,” said Peter Scoffham, Vice President, Defence Capability Marketing for Airbus Military.

“No other aircraft comes close to A300 MRTT as aircrafts designed in 1970s cannot be compared with those being built now,” Scoffham told PTI at the Airbus Military facility in Getafe, a metropolitan area in southern zone of Spanish city of Madrid.

“The new technology on offer to India bridges the gap between strategic and tactical tanker,” he said, adding “it would be at competitive prices.”

India has so far relied on the Russian technology in acquiring its first air tankers, but the defence planners are now insisting that the IAF be armed with the most updated technology.

India has issued Fresh Request for Proposals (RFP) for six in-flight refuelling aircraft, reviving the tender worth around Rs 6,000 crore that was cancelled in January this year.

Besides Airbus, America’s Boeing and the Russians too are in the contention for one of the biggest military tenders to be floated by India.

Even as Scoffham refused to give details of the new RFP, he said “India has emerged as one of the largest defence markets in the world,” and like all other major defence industries, “Airbus Military is looking to India to sell its products which are the best in its categories.”

A300 MRTT has comprehensive AAR system, including both Hose and Drogue and the ARBS.

Following its last-minute failure to ink the lucrative deal earlier this year, Airbus Military, a business unit of Airbus responsible for all military transport aircraft, said the civil and military certification for the A330 MRTT strengthens its case.

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) had almost bagged the contract earlier, but the Indian finance ministry had reservations labelling the contract as “too expensive.”

The Indian Air Force had recommended the Airbus A330 MRTT after an over two-year-long process as it believed that the European aircraft was technologically more capable than the Russian IL-78 aircraft in the fray, according to IAF sources.

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