India Relooking New Tanker Aircraft

by: Matthew Potter
December 16, 2009

Category: Business Line, Companies, Contract Awards, Countries, development program, EADS, Events, India, logistics, Military Aviation, Proposal | RSS 2.0

India currently operates a version of the Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft as an aerial tanker. The Il-78 “Midas” has been in service with Russia and India for several years and is a rugged, fairly cheap solution. Recently the Indian government had proposed new tankers based on the Airbus A330 aircraft. The same tanker is being purchased by England and would be considered again by the U.S. Air Force for its KC-X competition.

Now it is reported that the Finance Ministry has raised some concerns over the cost of the A330 compared to the Il-78. Both aircraft were proposed for the contract and the Il-78 was the cheaper bid. The Ministry feels that the contract should be reconsidered on cost grounds and also due to the fact that India already operates the Il-78 making it easier to integrate the new tankers. It is assumed though that the A330 platform offers benefits in capability and technology level over the older Russian aircraft.

India has been planning on new investment in their Armed Forces utilizing the purchase of foriegn, Western equipment to quickly upgrade their technological level. At the same time new rules on offsets and foriegn investment means that their economy will gain through these deals. The most important contract that is out there is for a new fighter which is currently undergoing the early stages of competition. Several U.S. and European companies as well as MiG have submitted bids.

It might be that the Indian Government decides that the higher cost of the A330 is worth it if the capability purchased is significantly enhanced.

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