The purchase of ten Boeing C-17 Globmaster III aircraft for $4.1 billion received the green light from the government yesterday, paving the way for formal approval of the largest Indian acquisition program through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales. A Letter of Acceptance to the US government is expected to follow soon, followed by formal signing of the contract. Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to start 24 months after the signing of the contract. The heavy-lift aircraft will play a leading role providing strategic lift capabilities, mobilizing military assets within India and abroad and supporting disaster relief operations throughout the region.
The IAF currently operate a dozen Russian built Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft providing heavy-lift transport and about 100 Antonov AN-32 medium-lift planes. The first of six new Lockheed Martin C-130J arrived earlier this year, forming a new transport capability supporting rapid deployment special operations units.
Chris Chadwick, president, Boeing Military Aircraft said that the acquisition of ten aircraft is not the final step in this program, as the Indians could be interested in purchasing six additional aircraft. The Indian order comes as a relief for Boeing’s C-17 Long Beach production line, which could have dried out by 2012, lacking new orders. “Without the order by the Indian government, the last of the plant’s current orders would be delivered in December 2012. The order has a $5.8 billion annual economic impact and the jobs of about 25,000 workers in 44 states depend on the C-17 planes,” a Boeing spokesperson said. The deal will also offer significant opportunity for India’s aerospace manufacturers, as it comes with an offset requirement valued at $1.2 billion.