Citing a ‘high operational cost’, India has withdrawn the tender for the purchase of six multi-role tanker transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space.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.”

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David Anthony Simpson

Again the one clear message from this as on so many occasions in the past is that doing business with India on major procurement contracts, especially within defence and aerospace, is tortuous, difficult and sometimes very unproductive and expensive to the bidders. Goodness knows how much has already been spent by Airbus alone in getting nowhere in this particular project. India must sharpen up its act if it not only wants good deals but the bidders at the table prepared to offer them.

James Gale

India is a waste of time business wise. The hawk programme was costly and France are experiencing their rather pathetic sales tactic of wanting something for nothing as well.

Let them eat cake

David Anthony Simpson

On the other hand they are rather good at keeping a former RN clapped out carrier going for 3 decades longer than it should have been sensibly possible – lessons there? Errr no I don’t think so. 🙂

Peter Vine

Basically every time Airbus get anywhere near a deal, the Russians are lobbying hard to get the Indian MoD to cancel the deal.

So you’ve got an impasse where the IAF want the A330 but the corrupt Indian MoD want the IL-78

Nick Lockhart

The Great Game went economic years ago.

Russia has always sought influence over India

Jason Holmes

Its also due to certain bribe scandals by certain a certain Italian company which has badly tarnished European defence sales there

Steve Arnott

The UK has stopped paying for them more like…….


More like UK doesn’t have a product to sell. And when it has , others have better and cheaper.

Kent Reynolds

My recollection is that India has a preference to build the aircraft within its borders. I couldn’t tell you where I read it, but the manufacture of its own stuff has always been a big thing for them. It’s apparent that not everyone who has decision power believes the same thing.


Its more a budget and priority issue right now. Indian Armed forces needs a good number of these for AWACs/ Tanker projects , but there are other major acquisitions lined up. So it’s been decided for the moment to upgrade India’s IL76 to Il78 tankers and buy a few more from Russia. [ Rouble has fallen which also means cheaper Russian products. ]