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Airbus eyes India deal for aircraft tankers


A330 aerial refueling tanker aircraft. Photo: Airbus.

LANGKAWI (AFP): European aircraft giant Airbus is hoping to strike a deal to sell its A330 aerial refueling tanker aircraft to India, an Airbus official said Wednesday.

"India sent a request for proposals late last year. We responded by the end of January. We hope to win the contract," Pablo Quesada, Airbus's head of market development for the aircraft, told AFP.

Speaking at an international maritime and aerospace exhibition on the Malaysia resort island of Langkawi, Quesada declined to give further details.

Sources in the industry said India is looking at acquiring six aircraft but that its long-term needs are far higher.

A successful Airbus bid would make India the fifth buyer for the multi-role tanker aircraft.

The Royal Australian Air Force, the first to operate the new plane, conducted its first international flight from Brisbane to Langkawi for the show.

Russian company Ilyushin is the only other contender for the contract, with its Ilyushin 78 model.

Boeing, which in February beat Airbus in winning a bid to provide 179 air tankers for the US Air Force, has not made an offer to India, the sources said.

The aircraft, which can refuel two planes at the same time, has been ordered by four clients: Australia, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

France is widely expected to order the plane by 2013 but French officials maintain a decision has not yet been made.

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