Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Airbus, Boeing Undecided On Indian Tanker Rebid

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Oct 19 , 2010 , p. 05
Neelam Mathews

NEW DELHI — Airbus Military and Boeing remain undecided about participating in India’s program to buy six midair refuelers, which has a proposal deadline of Dec. 15.

“On the basis of our [past] experience, we are thoroughly analyzing and reviewing the situation,” says Barbara Kracht, vice president of communications at Airbus Military.

Boeing also has received the request for proposals (RFP) from the Indian government, “but not made a decision as yet to participate,” according to Vivek Lall, head of Boeing Defense, Space and Security in India. Should it decide to take part , Boeing could offer a variant of the KC-767 Tanker Transport.

India’s indecision led to the cancellation of a previous contract to buy A330-based refuelers from Airbus on Dec. 30 of last year (Aerospace DAILY, Jan. 12). The program was rebid in September 2010.

Given the much larger scope of the ongoing tanker replacement program in the U.S., an analyst says it is likely that both manufacturer’s interest in six refuelers for India could be waning.

Other contenders for India’s six Multirole Tanker Transport include Russia with the Il-78 and Israel Aerospace Industries, which recently began flight trials of the single Boeing 767-200ER that it converted to a multi-mission tanker transport configuration for the Colombian air force.

The new refueler needs a variety of interfaces and a true multirole capability, which the A330-200 can provide, says Peter Scoffham, vice president of defense capability marketing for Airbus Military.

Airbus says the A330 Multirole Tanker Transport can be equipped with a combination of the aerial refueling boom system for receptacle-equipped receiver aircraft, Cobham 905E/805E under-wing refueling pods for probe-equipped receiver aircraft, and a universal aerial refueling receptacle system installation for self-refueling.

India has some concerns that, because negotiations began last year with Airbus Military for the A330 after the Il-78 was rejected for having an incomplete bid, prices are now known to competitors, a military official says.

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