The Ministry of Defence this week said it expects bids from four consortia for the RAF’s future air-to-air refuelling tankers in July. The private finance initiative (PFI) contract is worth £9bn over 25 years.
A final decision on whether to go ahead with a PFI deal will be made in 2002, the MoD said. The consortia under consideration are Air Reach, (led by Rolls-Royce), BAE Systems, Eurotanker, (comprising FR Aviation, Brown & Root and Thales, the former Thomson-CSF), and the Serco-led firm SSM.
Each submitted outline proposals in 1999 and are now being asked to provide fully costed bids. The consortia are considering several aircraft platforms, including Airbus and Boeing.
Defence procurement minister Baroness Symons said the PFI arrangement would mean a contractor providing a complete air-to-air refuelling service to the RAF. ‘The contractor would own, manage and maintain the aircraft, and provide training facilities and personnel,’ she said.
Under the terms of the agreement, the RAF will continue to retain military responsibility for the delivery of the system.