After winning the USD 35 billion contest to supply the US Air Force (USAF) with 179 air-to-air refuelers, Boeing has indicated it might be willing to service Indian requirements too.
India is currently considering bids for the Airbus A-330 MRTT and the Russian IL-78 refuelers in a tender, which closed on January 12.
Dr. Vivek Lall, Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security unit’s India Vice President said ,”We do foresee additional international interest in the NewGen Tanker, based on its selection by the US Air Force, and we will respond to these expressions of interest in a manner that will allow us to continue to execute on our promises to the Air Force customer and meet the needs of the international marketplace.”
“On the Indian tanker, we will standby to evaluate any future requirements in case there is interest from our Indian customers,” he added.
India is in the market for six tankers, after the Indian Air Force (IAF) selection of the Airbus refueler was rejected by the Finance Ministry last year on grounds of cost and because the IAF already operates the Russian aircraft.
Boeing had not entered a bid in the contest, as it was unsure of the outcome of the US KC-X tanker contest and did not want to commit to India in the absence of the considerably larger US order.
The IAF had been keen on having Boeing participate in the race. It is unclear if the IAF would now allow Boeing to enter the contest, more than a month after the deadline for the submission of bids expired. Neither of the two bidders are likely to remain silent at a late entry into the contest.