By Brendan Sobie in Singapore
Airbus, Boeing, IAI, Ilyushin and Lockheed Martin bid for reconnaissance aircraft deal
EADS plans to develop a new variant of the Airbus A319/A320 to compete with the Boeing P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) on offer to India.
Industry sources say the Indian navy is evaluating a proposal, led by EADS Casa and based on the A319, for its eight-aircraft maritime reconnaissance requirement.
Other proposals received by India include an export variant of the US Navy’s P-8A, dubbed the P-8I, from Boeing; a new solution based on the Dassault Falcon 900 from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI); an improved version of the Il-38 from Ilyushin, and a refurbished P-3 from Lockheed Martin.
EADS sources say the A319 proposal is similar to a maritime solution first proposed to Italy and Germany in 2003, which had a bomb-bay and missile hardpoints housed in canoe fairings. But for India, which wants an aircraft to detect and attack submarines, the bomb bay has been moved to the cargo bay and the missile hardpoints moved to the wings.
To further reduce non-recurring engineering costs, EADS Casa’s FITS mission system is being proposed for India instead of the tailor-made system offered to Italy and Germany.
“It is using part of the development for the Germans and Italians, but the concept has changed a bit. For the Germans and Italians it was a purpose-built aircraft. In the case of India, it’s a derivative aircraft,” says an EADS source.
Several other countries – including Australia, Canada and France – have expressed interest in the aircraft proposed to India and will likely be offered a similar solution based on an A320, because they require more range and endurance. However, few are expected to launch competitions for new anti-submarine warfare aircraft in the near future, the source adds.
EADS anticipates most P-3 operators will not begin to look for replacements for at least five and perhaps 10 or even 15 years. Consequently, it expects several maritime surveillance competitions will be held between 2010-20.