Boeing offers its Latest Tanker Aircraft to Indian Air Force

The newest aerial refueling aircraft of the US air force that gives extended endurance in the skies to a variety of planes ranging from choppers, transporters to fighters is being pitched for a similar Indian requirement.

The Boeing KC 46 ‘Pegasus’ tanker has been presented to the Indian air force a few times in the past few months and interest has been shown by New Delhi on the new aircraft that is currently under production in Seattle.

India has a requirement for at least six new multi role tankers with the ageing fleet of Russian origin IL 78 aircraft limited in their capability to meet needs for long distance deployment. India has twice failed to conclude the procurement process to acquire the six tankers, the latest attempt being called off earlier this year.

On both occasions, the Airbus A 330 MRTT was chosen by the air force for the contract. However, costing issues and a debate on whether direct acquisition costs or life cycle costs should be calculated to select the most economical option stalled the contract.

In both the contests however, Boeing did not participate as it did not have a product to meet Indian requirements. With the KC 46 under production, the company is now pitching it for the Indian requirement, pointing out that it is uniquely placed to add to the capabilities of two other Boeing platforms being operated by the armed forces – the C 17 Globemaster airlifter and the naval P8I submarine hunter and reconnaissance aircraft.
“A KC 46 would be able to refuel a C 17 and a P8I, India does not have the capability to do that yet. We are certifying a total of 56 aircraft to refuel from the tanker,” Glenn Hanbey, who leads Boeing’s KC 46 Tanker Global Sales and Marketing team says, adding that the aircraft is designed to have a reliability rate of 99.7 percent and to be 30 percent more fuel efficient than preceding tankers.

The US tanker – over 100 are projected to enter service for the US air force – is equipped with armour in the cockpit for crew protection, Infra Red countermeasures to ward away missiles and electromagnetic pulse hardening to operate in a range of missions.

The US tanker – over 100 are projected to enter service for the US air force – is equipped with armour in the cockpit for crew protection, Infra Red countermeasures to ward away missiles and electromagnetic pulse hardening to operate in a range of missions.

The upgrade will also involve fitting new engines to six of the IL 78 midair refulers that will give the aircraft a longer range as well as the capability to carry extra fuel. The Indian fleet is likely to be fitted with new PS 90 engines that can increase the load carrying capability by almost two tons.

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