The defence ministry (MoD) is likely to issue a fresh international tender for building 56 transport aircraft in India to replace the venerable Avro HS-748 in the Indian Air Force (IAF) inventory, said ministry sources.
Only a single bidder — an Airbus Defence and Space, and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) consortium — had bid in response to a MoD tender that closed on October 22. The Airbus-Tata consortium has proposed to build the Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft.
“The director general of acquisitions will take a decision on this when he returns to office on Monday from his current travel,” said the ministry spokesperson.
In May 2013, the MoD had issued a global tender —called a “request for proposals” or RfP — to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including US firms, Boeing and Lockheed Martin; European multinational Airbus Defence & Space; Antonov of Ukraine; Swedish company Saab; Ilyushin of Russia; and Italian company, Alenia Aerom-acchi. These OEMs are required to partner an Indian private company to build 40 aircraft in the country, after delivering the first 16 off-the-shelf, all within eight years.
Yet, for various reasons, only one OEM has bid. Among those left out is Antonov, of Ukraine, which had partnered Larsen & Toubro (L&T) in a proposal to build the An-132 aircraft in India. However, political turmoil in Ukraine, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has stalled its bid.
In August, in a major government reshuffle in Kiev, Antonov was moved from under the charge of Ukraine’s industry ministry and placed under the ministry of finance. The IAF rejected Antonov’s request for more time to let its new ministry clear its bid.
On August 25, Ukraine called a snap election, which was eventually held on October 26. On October 20, with Kiev in the throes of electioneering, Antonov wrote again to the IAF, asking for more time. With that request turned down, Antonov has not bid.
The Swedish company, which wanted to supply the Saab-2000 aircraft, has not bid because the MoD is unwilling to let it build all 56 aircraft in India. The RfP insists that 16 aircraft must be supplied in flyaway condition. Saab, having shut down its line in Sweden, wants to build all the aircraft in India, which the RfP does not provide for.
Russian manufacturer, Ilyushin, wants to supply the IL-214. A defence ministry procurement official say it would be difficult to continue with a single vendor.