India's MOD issued a request for proposals (RFP) for delivery of six Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for a second time in September 2010, after procurement of Airbus A330-200 against a 2007 RFP was cancelled at the behest of Ministry of Finance because of high price.
Fresh RFPs were sent to aircraft manufacturers in Europe (Airbus), Russia (Rosoboronexport) and the US of A (Boeing).
Boeing opted out of the competition and declined to submit a bid.
Trials on competing tankers - A-330 MRTT AND IL-78 - have been completed. Both aircraft met IAF's technical specs.
Following an in-depth evaluation of the commercial bids submitted by the two vendors, A-330 MRTT emerged as the lowest bidder based on Life Cycle Costs. [via Economic Times]
A contract with EADS is expected to be finalized in 2013-14.
In 2007, RFPs were sent to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, EADS and Ilyushin. Lockheed Martin and Boeing did not respond to the tender, leaving only Ilyushin and EADS in the fray.
EADS had offered the A330-200-in a three-hose configuration and Russia's United Aircraft (UAC) had offered a more advanced version of the Ilyushin Il-78 Midas tanker, 12 of which are in service with the IAF.
Ilyushin's was the lowest bidder. However, the IAF Air favored buying the A330 multirole tanker over the IL-78 of Ilyushin, which it had been using.
In late May 2009, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major told HT in an interview, “We have finished all evaluations and selected the A330 MRTT. The deal will come up for final approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) very soon. The Russian platform did not meet certain requirements.”
The Air Chief appeared to be piqued at the poor vendor support for equipment procured from Russia.
"After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia has changed the whole pattern of doing defense business. Now we are faced with issues concerning spares, vendor support and built-in delays in the structure of their centralized military corporations.”
On October 1, 2009 it was reported that the Finance Ministry has objected to the IAF's choice as the Airbus 330 MRTT deal would cost upwards of Rs 8,000 crore against the Rs 5,000 crore budget estimate of the MOD. On the other hand, the fleet of Russian built IL-78 would cost only Rs 4,800 crore.
The Finance Ministry also felt it will be easier for the IAF to absorb additional IL-78 aircraft instead of inducting a new type. Considering that the IL-78 was inducted as late as 2004, there was no case for induction of a new type on the grounds of technology upgrade.
In December 2009, Defence Minister A. K. Antony, in a written reply to a question in the parliament, said:
"The procurement proposal had been progressed in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure-2006 and thereafter referred to the Ministry of Finance, who has expressed certain reservations relating to the competitiveness of the bids and the reasonableness of the price."
In January 2010 it was reported that the MRTT procurement has been cancelled because the Air Force opted for Airbus 330-200 despite the Ilyushin Il-78 Midas tanker bid being lower.
In mid January, 2010 India floated a fresh Request for Information (RFI) for the procurement of a MRTT for the Air Force. This time Boeing intends to compete in the procurement process against EADS and Ilyushin.
Boeing, which already has the KC-767 tanker/transport based on its commercial 767 platform, has plans to develop an additional tanker based on the larger Boeing 777 platform.
Speaking with Flight magazine, Boeing said it has received the RFI and plans to participate.
As "to what type we will be offering, that is still subject to internal discussions. The company has just received the RFI, and is studying it to determine India's requirements," said an official.
EADS is offering the A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
EADS is pitching the lower life cycle costs of an Airbus 330 MRTT against the lower purchase cost of an IL-78. Lower life cycle costs is the reason why there are 800 Airbus 330 aircraft flying around the world on any given day, says the company.
EADS also debunks the theory that since the IAF already operates IL-78 aircraft it wont need any additional infrastructure for the additional aircraft, pointing out that many airlines in India are operating the Airbus 330 so the cost creating support infrastructure for the military version of the aircraft will be minimal. It points out that Airbus 330 infrastructure will exist 30 years from now, something that cannot be said with confidence for the IL-78. [via Stratpost]
The A-330 MRTT can carry 110 tonnes of fuel to "top-off" several fighters simultaneously through its "aerial refueling boom system".
EADS claims it can transfer fuel faster than any other tanker in the market, at 4,600 litres per minute.
The MRTT can also be used as a transport/cargo plane, capable as it is of carrying around 380 passengers or a 45i-tonne payload.
Rosoboronexport is offering a modified militarized version of the IL-86 – a commercial passenger plane. If won, this will be the first time the IL-86 is modified into aerial refueling platform.
Rosoboronexport will likely offer its IL-86 with a aerial refueling system designed by IAI Bedek, capable of refueling 6-8 Su-30MKIs on each sortie. The system is already fitted on existing IAF IL-78 tankers and was proven with all MMRCA contenders during trials held as a part of the selection process.
The IAF carried out capability assessment trials of the Airbus 330 MRTT and Ilyushin IL-78 at Gwalior in December 2011.
During the trials, the competing tankers refueled Su-30MKI, Mirage 2000H, Jaguar and MiG-29 fighters of the IAF.
The trials at Gwalior followed earlier trials in Spain and Russia in July 2011. [via Rediff.com]