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India drops Russia from $1 billion deal

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A file photo of Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport

NEW DELHI (BNS): Russia is likely to lose a $ 1 billion defence deal for midair refuellers as the Indian Air Force has decided in favour of European Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), a leading paper said Monday.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided against fielding Il-78 tankers after operating it for almost six years. The IAF wants to deploy the Airbus A330 MRTT offered by European Aerospace Corporation EADS as the Russian platform does not meet its requirements, The Hindustan Times report said.

“We have finished all evaluations and selected the A330 MRTT. The deal will come up for final approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) very soon. The Russian platform did not meet certain requirements,” it quoted IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major as saying.

“After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia has changed the whole pattern of doing defence business. Now we are faced with issues concerning spares, vendor support and built-in delays in the structure of their centralised military corporations,” he added.

The Defence Ministry had floated the $ 1 billion global tender three years ago for six midair refuellers to extend the operating radiuses of Indian fighter jets.

The A330 MRTT has won several tanker competitions with contracts signed by the governments of United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The first A330 MRTT would be delivered to the IAF within three years of signing of the deal while the remaining five would be inducted 15 months after that, it said.

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