With a year having passed since it had been selected by the Indian Government as the “preferred bidder” to supply its A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the European defence major Airbus Defence and Space on Thursday said it was confident of the deal being finalised within the current fiscal. In the meantime, the Government has urged Airbus to extend the validity of its tender bid to July 31, 2014.
Speaking during a media interaction organized to make India aware of its airlifter, the A400 M, officials of Airbus said they were confident of the contract for the supply of six A330 MRTT getting through very soon.
The aircraft, the Airbus said had been selected following a lengthy and thorough selection process including the completion of extensive flight demonstrations in India during which the aircraft refuelled multiple types of IAF fighters and operated from the high-altitude IAF base at Leh.
After the short listing of the company, detailed negotiations followed and while the final production contract for the six aircraft was expected to come through in 2013, Airbus is now banking on it happening before the elections. “Even otherwise military contracts follow great levels of due diligence and therefore do not get unduly influenced by electoral outcomes,” said Anil Gupta, a senior company official. The meeting was also addressed by senior company officials Peter Gutsmeidl and Harish V.
At the time of selecting the A330 MRTT, India had become the fifth nation to do so – the others being Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom which had ordered a total of 28 aircrafts.
Talking to The Hindu, a company official said A330 MRTT is capable of deploying four fighters and airlifting all necessary support equipment and personnel over 2800 nautical miles.
Built on the platform of the civilian aircraft, A-330, which is being used by Air India as well, the MRTT has a fuel tank of 111 ton capacity and since the fuel is stored in the wings, the belly and the passenger area can be used for transporting additional equipment and personnel respectively during operations.
Incidentally, the company had first bid for the contract opposite the Russian IL-76 in 2006 and had won the bid in 2009. However, the Finance Minister had while citing reasonability of price got the order scrapped. It was retendered in 2010 and finalized in January 2013. But the contract has still not been signed.