There’s a reason: when the programme was revived some years ago, the DRDO had conducted an internal study and decided that the Airbus jet was what they wanted (based in part on the IAF’s selection of the Airbus A330 MRTT as its next tanker), though it was rapidly made clear that the field for widebodies was unrestricted, and that the DRDO needed to tender for those six jets. And that’s what it began doing in March last year.
When contacted, a Boeing spokesperson told Livefist, “After a comprehensive review of the Request for Proposal, Boeing decided not to bid on India’s AWACS program. With 30 years of leadership and experience in AWACS system architecture, Boeing recognizes the complexity of the system requires an incremental development program to successfully manage the program risks and ensure an affordable program. As currently structured, the RFP does not support this approach. Boeing is working with India on a number of other programs and remains committed to helping enhance the country’s defense and security now and into the future.” On the other hand, a large order backlog and KC-X production commitments that run till 2027 (excluding option) too may have had a bearing on Boeing’s overall decision.
Word is Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. could also send out feelers on the Il-76MD-90A as a potential platform for the AWACS, though it remains unclear if it still has a chance. Either way, the situation now is single source, very much like the Airbus/Tata bid for the Avro replacement.
Senior scientists at the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) I spoke to here at Aero India 2015 said fabrication of the 10 metre antenna was progressing well, and that there could be movement on data link and communication systems and electronics this year.
[This post was last updated on Feb 27]