We've known about this since November last year, but now it's official. Airbus has beaten out the Russians to win the Indian Air Force's new generation mid-air tanker bid. The Airbus A330 MRTT has been found to be the lowest bidder in a two-horse race against the Ilyushin Il-78M, six of which the IAF already operates. Here's the full official statement from Airbus:
Airbus Military is pleased to confirm that it has been selected by the Government of India as the preferred bidder to supply its A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The decision follows a lengthy and thorough selection process including the completion of extensive flight demonstrations in India by the A330 MRTT during which the aircraft refuelled multiple types of IAF fighters and operated from the high-altitude IAF base at Leh. Detailed negotiations will now begin which it is expected will lead to the award of a final production contract for an envisaged six aircraft in 2013.
Airbus Military CEO Domingo Ureña Raso said: “We are grateful for the confidence shown in our company by the Government of India and the Indian Air Force, and we appreciate the detailed and fair appraisal of the competing products which they have conducted. This has been a long and tough competition and we are honoured to have been selected. “We are fully committed to the next stage of the negotiations, and ultimately to providing the IAF with what is unquestionably the most advanced tanker/transport aircraft flying and certified today.”
India´s selection of the A330 MRTT makes it the fifth nation to commit to the type following Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom which have ordered a total of 28 aircraft.