Bangalore: India will shortly open bids for procuring 15 heavy-lift helicopters, and six air-to-air tankers, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said on Thursday.
"We are going to shortly open the bids for the heavy-lift helicopters....", he told reporters, noting that contenders for the contract are Boeing`s Chinook and Mi-26 of Russia
By next month, IAF would also be opening bids for six air-to-air tanker tender, for which Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and the Russian Ilyushin-78 air-to-air tanker are competing, the Air Chief said.
IAF is currently negotiating for the procurement of 22 Apache helicopters from Boeing, he said.
The Air Chief Marshal said negotiations are on to acquire four additional (Israeli tethered) aerostats.
On the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) deal for 126 fighter jets, estimated to be USD 11 billion, he said commercial negotiations are on, adding, "we hope that at least in this (current) financial year, we should be able to complete it (singing the contract with France`s Rafale).
"We are discussing various areas like transfer of technology, the offset, what HAL will do and cost, of course", he said. "So, that process is very much on and is progressing very well".
The Air Chief Marshal also said IAF is exploring opportunities to acquire two trainers from French Air Force or "somewhere else in the world" to replace the two Mirage 2000 aircraft which crashed earlier this year.
Noting that the IAF has an upgradation contract with Dassault for 51 such aircraft, he said right now IAF has 49. "We are looking at the opportunities to acquire two trainers".