The Indian Air Force (IFC, Delhi International) is planning to issue a tender for the acquisition of six second-hand aircraft to be converted into aerial tankers. Pending their delivery and induction, India will lease one aircraft for training purposes, The Indian Express has reported.

Ministry of Defence sources told the newspaper the tender would likely be issued in the next six months. They did not specify the types to be sourced.

"Several global companies will let go of their older aircraft models in the next three to four years as they make the transition to advanced aircraft with new engines. There will be an adequate number of pre-owned aircraft available in the market which can be modified into tankers," the source explained.

Deliveries are expected to take another two to three years from the date of the conclusion of the tender. Given the expected wait, the Indian Air Force has already launched the RFP for the lease of a tanker for training purposes. The leased tanker will not perform air-to-air refuelling missions.

The Indian Air Force currently operates six Il-78MKI air tankers, which were delivered in 2003-2004, according to the ch-aviation fleets module. Given their age, they are proving increasingly difficult to maintain, and usually only three to four are airworthy at any given time.

Last year, Hindustan Aeronautics announced plans to acquire six second-hand B767s to be converted into tankers in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries, in anticipation of the IAF tender.