Airbus keen to sell army planes to India

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 08, 2013 04:10 hrs

Europe’s Airbus wants to sell its C-295 military transport aircraft to India, an Airbus Military executive said on Thursday, adding the company was awaiting a Request for Proposals (RfPs) from the government.

“We are very keen to see the RfP, so we can get our proposal in there,” said Kieran Daly, press manager for Airbus Military, at the Aero India air show in Bangalore.

The C-295 is a twin-engined Spanish-built tactical transport aircraft, designed to carry 71 people or nine tonnes of cargo.

It competes in a growing market for aircraft designed for rough air strips with the Alenia C-27J, made by a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica.

Airbus is also optimistic about finalising a contract this year to sell Airbus aerial refueling tankers to India, Daly said.

Last month, it had beaten Russian competition to be selected as the preferred bidder to supply six A330 aerial refueling tankers to India, paving the way for exclusive talks between Airbus Military and the Indian government for a deal reportedly valued around $1.25 billion.

“Hopefully, the final contract negotiations will begin in the next few weeks. We are optimistic we will have a contract within the year,” Daly said.

India has been the world’s biggest arms importer in recent years and plans to spend around $100 billion over the next 10 years in upgrading its mostly Soviet-era military hardware.

Daly also said Airbus could deliver its long-delayed A400M military airlifter to its first customer, France, in May.

Asked when the handover would take place, he said, “Probably May (or) could be June. We had said earlier it will be in the second quarter.”

Developed at a cost of £20 billion, Europe’s military transport and heavy cargo plane has been hit by a five-year delay and cost overruns that led to a multinational bailout.

Airbus, a unit of European aerospace group EADS, has begun low-level discussions aimed at promoting the aircraft to India and hopes eventually to sell it to the US. “We think the A400M will be of interest to the Indian Air Force in due course,” Daly said.

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