NEW DELHI ― India has begun its third global attempt to buy six midair refueling aircraft by issuing a request for information to European corporation Airbus, Boeing of the U.S. and Ilyushin Aviation Complex of Russia, according to an Indian Air Force official.
The previous two attempts failed due to the high cost of the shortlisted midair refueling platforms.
The Air Force official declined to comment on how this new attempt will be different.
The overseas companies were asked to submit their respective responses by March 30. Afterward, a formal tender will be issued.
This new tender will have a 30 percent mandatory direct defense offset clause as part of the $2 billion-plus program. The tender will also take into account a 30-year life cycle costs, in addition to maintenance and space support costs.
An executive with one of the foreign defense companies participating in the program warned that if the Indian Ministry of Defence does not simplify its selection criteria, ”this deal is never going to happen.”
Per the MoD’s procurement rules, selection is based on the lowest submitted price, which is not the always the best solution, he added.
The Indian Air Force currently operates six Russian IL-78 midair refueling platforms acquired in 2003, which are used to increase the range of the service’s fleet of Mirage 2000H, Jaguar and Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters.
However, the IL-78 fleet faces reliability issues and continuous maintenance support.