The Ministry of Defence says it may charter aircraft to meet its interim requirement for transport aircraft, following its surprise cancellation of a competition to provide such planes.
The MoD is to hold talks with industry to explore options to improve the Royal Air Force’s short-term capability, defence procurement minister Baroness Symons said.
Five proposals to meet the requirement for a short-term strategic airlift were evaluated, but `none is judged to offer an acceptable solution at an affordable cost, so the competition will be terminated’, the MoD said.
Symons said: `There remains an urgent need for additional airlift’ and the MoD would explore other approaches. Options for improving on existing spot charter arrangements include short-term leasing or chartering agreements, she said.
The intention is to reach a decision on what to do early next year, at the same time as the MoD’s decision on the longer-term future transport aircraft requirement to replace around 30 ageing RAF C-130 Hercules.
The five bids offered the lease or purchase in various combinations of the Boeing C-17 (one bid from Boeing with British Aerospace, and another from Rolls-Royce offering a `managed service’); the A300-600 and Beluga freighters from Airbus; and the Antonov An-124 (two bids, from Air Foyle and IBP).