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Airbus preparing to start contract negotiations with IAF

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The A330 Multi-role Transport Tanker aircraft.

MADRID (PTI): European consortium Airbus Friday said it would provide "unquestionably" the most advanced tanker transport aircraft to India and was preparing to start contract negotiations for the supply of six mid-air refuellers to the Indian Air Force.

"We are fully committed to the next stage of negotiations and ultimately to provide the Indian Air Force with what is unquestionably the next advanced tanker transport aircraft flying and certified to date," Airbus Military CEO Domingo Urena Raso said.

Airbus Military's A-330MRTT has emerged as the lowest bidder in the IAF contract worth over Rs 8,000 crore for procuring these tanker aircraft. So far, the Indian Air Force has only been equipped with Russian-origin IL-78 mid-air refuellers.

"This has been a long and tough competition and we are honoured to have been selected," Raso noted while interacting with visiting Indian journalists at the Airbus Military facility close to Madrid.

Separately, Airbus Military derivatives' head Antonio Caramazana said: "We are ready to start contract negotiations... preparing to start negotiations as soon as possible and our aim is to conclude them, and the sooner it is the better."

Refusing to divulge the price involved in the deal, he mentioned that Airbus has offered the price in a combination of euros and dollars.

Caramazana said the six planes will be delivered every three months from the 36th month after the contract is signed.

He said the selection of engine is critical and a decision in this regard has to be taken sooner by the Indian side during contract negotiations.

"This lays down the procedure of the aircraft and the interface for the system," he said.

The A-330MRTT can carry 111 tonnes of fuel and is considered highly efficient and competitive in its class.

Officials claim its maintenance cost is low.

The decision by India to select Airbus Military followed a lengthy selection process, including completion of extensive flying demonstration during which the aircraft refuelled multiple types of IAF fighters and operated from high altitude.

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