PARIS, March 7 Airbus Defence and Space said on
Friday that it will supply six A330 MRTT refuelling jets to
Singapore's air force and that India was close to ordering
another half dozen.
The deal brings the total number of converted Airbus
jetliners sold as tankers to 34 worldwide after Australia,
Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates previously
India was in the "final stages of contractual negotiations
for six aircraft," the company, a subsidiary of Airbus Group NV
, said in a statement.
Airbus Group Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders told
reporters in Washington that the Singapore order underscored the
appeal of the MRTT tanker, although he acknowledged that the
orders were far smaller than the 179 planes ordered by the U.S.
Air Force from Boeing Co after a prolonged series of
Singapore was also assessing the Boeing 767-based KC-46A
tanker being built for the U.S. Air Force.
Boeing said it was disappointed by the news, but remained
committed to its longstanding relationship with Singapore.
Boeing said it would also continue to vy for tanker orders
elsewhere, including South Korea, which is expected to launch a
formal competition in coming months.
"We continue to see strong interest in the KC-46A from
nations looking to modernize their aerial refueling
capabilities," said Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling.
Singapore's decision to buy the six Airbus tankers to
replace its fleet of four Boeing KC-135 tankers gives it a
vehicle that can refuel both its F-15s and a possible purchase
of Lockheed Martin F-35s.
The Airbus purchase means Singapore could transport aircraft
that can carry around 300 passengers. That would be useful for
the Singapore Armed Forces, which conducts training in Australia
Singapore-based maintenance and repair firm ST Aerospace, a
unit of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, was
expected to be selected to make the modifications on the A330
MRTT for the country.