Citing a ‘high operational cost’, India has withdrawn the tender for the purchase of six multi-role tanker transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space.
The A330 MRTT and Il-78 were competing for a global tender floated in 2006 by the Indian defence ministry for six tankers to extend the operating radius of Indian fighter jets.
In May 2009, India finally chose the Airbus A330 MRTT over the Il-78. However, in January 2010, the government cancelled the order citing high cost as the reason, reportedly against the wishes of the Air Force.
After rebidding, India selected the European tanker as its “preferred vendor” in November 2012. In January 2013, it was reported that India had again selected Airbus’ A330MRTT as “preferred bid”.
Airbus Defence and Space has said India’s Ministry of Defence terminated in late June the six-year-old US$2 billion tender for six multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft for the Indian Air Force, for which the company’s A330 MRTT had been shortlisted.
An Airbus official stated
“We have been notified by the MoD of the withdrawal of the request for proposals, but we do not see this as the end of the road for the A330 MRTT campaign in India”, and added that the aerospace company “will engage with the Indian government in finding a way to bring the A330 MRTT’s capabilities to the IAF.”