Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to convert civilian airliners into Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) in India.
“We are proud to come together with our counterparts to bring our best-value MMTT solution to India, while utilizing the local resources to manufacture and market the platform,” said Boaz Levy, IAI President and CEO. “By collaborating with HAL and bringing MMTT conversion directly to India, we are supporting the important ‘Make in India’ campaign and relying on HAL and its supply chain ecosystem, manpower, and capabilities to create advanced platforms.”
In 2010, IAI converted a Boeing 767 formerly operated by Air China into a KC-767 refueler for the Colombian Air Force. While the type of airliner to be converted under the India deal was not specified, an anonymous defense source told The Hindu that India would likely look into converting the same model of aircraft.
The aerial refueling capacity of the Indian Air Force currently relies on six Ilyushin Il-78 tankers acquired in 2002. Two calls for tenders were launched in 2009 and 2016 to procure an aircraft capable of operating from high altitude bases, such as the one in the Ladakh region, bordering China. Both competitions were won by the Airbus A330 MRTT. However, no contract was ever firmed up, and the IAF remains in need of refueling capacities.
In April 2021, an agreement with France was announced to lease an A330 MRTT from France for training purposes, to be followed by five more tankers to be used operationally.