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India to buy C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft from U.S.

K.V. Prasad

Delivery will begin 24 months after signing of contract


The deal estimated to cost Rs. 18,000 crore

Deal will become highest single value military contract with U.S.


NEW DELHI: India on Monday decided to purchase 10 C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift transport aircraft from the U.S. for the Indian Air Force. The deal under the Foreign Military Sales (Government-to-Government) is estimated to cost Rs. 18,000 crore (approximately $4.1 billion).

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Ministry officials said.

The contract, when signed would become the highest single value military contract that New Delhi would enter into with the U.S. and includes an offset obligation of around Rs. 4,500 crore ($ 1 billion). Under the clause, the U.S. company would have to source 30 per cent value of the order from India.

Work on the deal began last April during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India when it was announced that New Delhi had agreed to buy these aircraft.

In April 2010, the U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency informed the U.S. Congress on the possible sale at an estimated cost of $ 5.8 billion. The inventory included 45 engines (40 installed and 5 spare engines), missile warning systems, spares and repair parts, repair and return, flares, other explosives, aircraft ferry and refuelling support, crew armour, mission planning system software, training and training equipment, publications and technical data. The offer from Boeing was for the latest Block 18 aircraft.

The IAF plans to base these heavy lift aircraft at Agra. These can carry 73,616 kg of payload and can be operated by a crew of three-two in the cockpit and one loadmaster.

 Delivery of the planes would begin 24 months after signing of the contract. The company produces 15 in a year. Boeing officials had told The Hindu that should India order these planes the schedules with existing customers would be negotiated to accommodate it.

 The plane can carry 188 passengers, has reverse thrust engines for short turnaround and equipped with missile warning system with flares to disengage the incoming attack. The IAF conducted trials last year including one in Himachal Pradesh to check its efficacy for short take-off and landing with requisite cargo load.

At present the Russian IL-76 “Gajraj” and AN-32 are the IAF workhorses for transporting men and material. Earlier this year, the IAF inducted tactical lift C130J Super Hercules aircraft from the Lockheed Martin stable.

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