U.S. aviation giant Boeing has offered India its KC-46 mid-air refueling aircraft, shortly after the withdrawal of the USD 1 billion Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for six tankers in July. This was the second time a tender for the aircraft was cancelled. The Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) had been selected both times, beating the Russian IL-78, an aircraft already operated by the IAF. The European aerospace and defense company had extended the validity of its bid several times before the tender was withdrawn.
Sources in the IAF told StratPost that Boeing has already sent in representatives to brief New Delhi on the aircraft. Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar was also apprised of the capabilities of the aircraft during his recent visit to the U.S.
Boeing’s KC-46 program was selected by the USAF for its USD 51 billion KC-X tanker requirement. The KC-46 is based on Boeing’s 767 commercial airliner.
Boeing has never participated in either of the two Indian tanker contests, but had admitted the possibility that it might offer the aircraft to India, in the event it was finally selected for the U.S. tanker program. At this point, it remains unclear if the defense ministry and the IAF will issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the third time or if they will choose the government-to-government approach to purchase the type without a tender.