02 Maret 2012

Sixth Tanker for Australia?

02 Maret 2012

Airbus Military KC-30 MRTT (photo : ADF)

MELBOURNE — At the recent Singapore Airshow, Airbus Military Chief Domingo Ureña Raso revealed his company has submitted a proposal for a sixth KC-30 Multi Role Tanker Transport to the Australian government.

Australia has four KC-30As and will take delivery of its fifth, and last, later this year.
Speaking with Australian journalists at the show, Ureña said the offer was made in January, but there had yet to be a response from the commonwealth.

“We have made the unsolicited offer at a very attractive price for the Australian government,” Ureña said.

The matter is to be discussed at the Australian government’s National Security Council meeting in April.

Four of Australia’s aircraft have been converted locally by Qantas Defence Services (QDS) and the completion of the last aircraft in June will likely result in the loss of jobs and skills at its Brisbane facility.

Airbus Military was hopeful of winning an order for at least six aircraft for the Indian Air Force, but the Indian government’s requirement for early delivery means it may not be possible to set up an in-country conversion line in time.

With Airbus’ other conversion facilities also fully booked in the near-term, Ureña said the sixth aircraft for Australia would provide continuity for the Brisbane facility until it was able to begin work on some of the Indian aircraft, should Airbus Military win the competition.

“Although the intellectual property remains with Qantas Defence Services, it will be very expensive to ramp the workforce up again,” said Scott Harris, Head of QDS. “A sixth aircraft would provide a degree of continuity in the medium term.”

Ureña said one idea was to use one of the two airframes built for the failed U.S. KC-X bid, due to their similar age, but should the proposal be accepted it will now likely be based on a new-build aircraft.

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