India has selected the Airbus Military A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) as its preferred bid for a six aircraft requirement to supply the nation's air force.
Airbus Military says it expects the deal to be finalised later this year. The decision follows a flight test campaign carried out in India where the aircraft was used to refuel multiple fighter types and also performed operations from high-altitude air bases. The European type had faced competition from the Ilyushin Il-78MK, offered via Russia's Rosoboronexport arms agency.
Domingo Ureña Raso, Airbus Military chief executive, says: "We are grateful for the confidence shown in our company by the government of India and the Indian air force. This has been a long and tough competition and we are honoured to have been selected." India had previously selected the company to meet its expanded inflight refuelling requirements, before its selection was overturned by a budget committee, prompting a repeat contest. Local media reports last month suggested that the MRTT had again been selected, but Airbus Military declined to comment on the suggestion at that time.
New Delhi's selection of the A330 MRTT makes it the fifth nation to commit to the type, alongside Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the UK, which have previously ordered a combined total of 28 aircraft.