New Delhi will proceed with the Airbus A330 as the platform for its ambitious Airborne Warning and Control System India (AWACS India) programme.
In a decision taken on 25 March, the Defence Acquisition Council, led by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, apportioned a sum of €750 million ($813 million) for the acquisition of two A330s.
Airbus Defence & Space had last October emerged as the sole bidder for the six-aircraft tender, which had been issued in March 2014. The Indian requirement called for an initial batch of two aircraft, followed by four more. Options for four additional aircraft could be exercised at a later stage.
Substantial changes must be made to the A330 to enable the integration of a 10m (33ft)-diameter antenna rotodome, a supporting pylon and onboard mission systems. Certification tasks will be handled by Airbus.
India's Bengaluru-based Centre for Airborne Systems – part of its Defence Research and Development Organisation – will be responsible for the performance of the fully configured platform.
India’s cabinet Committee on Security granted its approval for the AWACS India programme in February 2012. The project was to be completed within 84 months. By Indian defence procurement standards, the activity has moved with surprising speed, an indication of the high importance accorded to it by the defence ministry.
Meanwhile, Airbus continues to wait on a decision to order six A330 multirole tanker transports for the Indian air force, having agreed to further extend the validity of its bid until 1 July.
The European company has also emerged as the sole bidder for a deal to replace the Indian air force's aged Avro HS 748 transports. It has teamed up with Indian partner Tata Advanced Systems to offer its C295 twin-turboprop, in response to a request for proposals issued to eight foreign manufacturers inMay 2013.
In February, the defence ministry announced that an independent committee had been set up "to look into various issues related to the single-vendor situation before a decision is taken to progress the case”.