India is now planning “a direct strategic purchase” of six flight refuelling aircraft (FRA) or tankers to enhance the reach of its fighter jets, bombers and surveillance aircraft after the bid to acquire them through global tenders failed twice over the last decade.
Consequently, the defence ministry (MoD)+ has scrapped the proposed Rs 9,000 crore contract for acquisition of six Airbus-330 MRTT (multi-role tanker transport) aircraft, which was hanging fire for several years due to high costs as well as old CBI cases and change in the manufacturer’s name from EADS Cassidian to Airbus Group.
“Airbus was told towards end-June that the RFP (request for proposal or tender), under which the A-330 MRTT was selected as L-1 (lowest bidder), has been withdrawn. A decision will now be taken for direct acquisition of FRA, a critical operational necessity for IAF+ ,” said a top MoD source. Alejandro Villanueva Authentic Jersey