The Indian Air Force (IAF), which is in search of new tanker aircraft, received an offer from France. Paris has proposed selling six Multi-Purpose Tanker Aircraft to India under an agreement involving the conversion of used A330 aircraft. The planes were operationally used for about seven years. France will commit to a 30-year lifespan for the platforms if the sale is approved.
Russian IL-76 M refuelling aircraft are currently in service in the IAF inventory. The Hindustan Times wrote that A330 MRTT’s, which are intended to be purchased in place of IL-76 M’s thought to be at the end of their lifespan, refuelling Su-30 MKI or Rafales could create a space for “freedom” for the Air Force.
On the other hand, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, told The EurAsian Times, “It’s a complete waste of money in my opinion.” India can’t do the kind of long-range power projection with an A330 the way America does, he maintained.
Iyer-Mitra also underlined that the A330s will not be a cost-effective solution: “An Ilyushin 76 will cost you about US$80-90 million, while Airbus refuelling platforms will amount to more than $200 million per aircraft.”
Another alternative proposal the IAF is considering is the rental of tankers from a British company.