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India rejects Russian aerial tankers over poor maintenance


NEW DELHI, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - India has dropped Russia from a $1-bln tender to supply six aerial tankers for the Indian Air Force due to poor after-sales maintenance services, the Hindustan Times cited the air force chief as saying.

The Indian Air Force has been operating a fleet of Russian Il-78 aerial tankers for six years and announced a global tender for an additional six aircraft three years ago. The Russian Il-78 and the European Airbus A330 MRTT were the contenders.

"We have finished all evaluations and selected the A330 MRTT. The deal will come up for final approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) very soon. The Russian platform did not meet certain requirements," Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said in an interview with the Hindustan Times published on Monday.

Major said India was not satisfied with the level of after-sales service provided by Russia.

"After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia has changed the whole pattern of doing defense business. Now we are faced with issues concerning spares, vendor support and built-in delays in the structure of their centralized military corporations," he said.

Although India remains a key buyer of Russian weaponry, bilateral military-technical ties have been overshadowed by recent spats over problems with supplies of spare parts, poor sales support, steep maintenance costs and technology transfer issues.

The A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transporter) is manufactured by EADS on the basis of the A330 passenger airliner. The first A330 MRTT will be delivered to the IAF within three years of signing the deal, with the remaining five to be supplied up to 15 months later, the newspaper said.

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