The UK Ministry of Defence has abandoned the Royal Air Force's Short Term Strategic Airlifter (STSA) competition. The Defence Procurement Agency says none of the five solutions offered an acceptable solution at the right price.

The STSA was launched following the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, which required "four Boeing C-17s or their equivalent". It was envisaged that the MoD would lease the aircraft for up to seven years, with a two-year option. Competitors were an Airbus solution based on A300s and the A300-600ST Beluga; an Air Foyle-led bid, offering Antonov An-124s with Honeywell avionics and re-engined with Rolls-Royce RB211s; the Boeing C-17 Globemaster; and IBP offering standard An-124s. R-R offered a managed fleet proposal for whichever aircraft won.

Head of defence procurement, Baroness Symons says the need for strategic airlift remains urgent and the MoD will explore "other approaches to improve our airlift capability in the short-term". This will include studying an extension of its spot-chartering operations to a more formal arrangement.

The MoD aims to have a solution by early next year to meet a strategic airlift problem, highlighted by the recent Kosovo conflict. A decision on a long-term future strategic airlift is to be taken by the UK and some of its European partners at about the same time.

Source: Flight International