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​Airbus walks away from Japan tanker RFP

Airbus Defence and Space will not put forward its A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft for a Japanese requirement calling for four tanker aircraft.

In a statement, the European airframer attributes its decision to concerns about the conduct of the competition.

“The format of the current solicitation has forced the company to conclude that it does not have a realistic prospect of winning this competition with the Airbus A330 MRTT, which remains by far the world’s best-selling modern tanker-transport aircraft,” says Airbus. “In particular allowing a competing bid to be sourced via a US Foreign Military Sale without a mechanism to make a fair price comparison, makes it extremely difficult for any other company to compete.”

It adds the the competition needs to consider the A330 MRTT’s “increased combat effectiveness” in any comparison “with a smaller and less efficient aircraft.”

In June, Japan issued a public notification about its intention to buy four tankers.

Though Airbus does not name another aircraft, it is referring to the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, a 767-derived tanker in development for the US Air Force.

“Airbus Defence and Space regrets that the way in which this [request for proposals] has been formulated has forced it to conclude that it would be an inappropriate use of shareholders’ funds and company resources to bid on this contract and accordingly the company will not be competing,” it adds. “

“However, the company respects the Japanese procurement process and remains committed to re-engaging with Japan’s Defence Ministry as appropriate.”

Derived from the A330-200 airliner, the A330 MRTT has had a strong run internationally, while the KC-46A has yet to win an international customer. According to Airbus, 35 aircraft have been ordered with 24 deliveries so far.

In 30 June, the Airbus jet defeated the KC-46A Pegasus and an Israel Aerospace Industries-based 767-based design in South Korea’s competition for four tankers.

The country presently operates four KC-767s and one Lockheed Martin KC-130H tanker aircraft.

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