The US plans to sell 10 Boeing C-17 transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at an estimated cost of 5.8 billion dollars and has notified its Congress for commencing negotiations.
The notification by the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency on the sale was submitted to the US Congress on April 22, according to an official release in New Delhi on Monday.
"This is an important step forward in the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process and is a necessary pre-requisite to negotiations on the deal," the release from the US embassy said.
After hearing of the notification, US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer said on Monday, "The potential sale of C-17s strengthens the growing partnership between our two countries demonstrates our enduring commitment to sharing the world's best technology with India."
He said, the sale would offer economic benefits for India and the US and is likely to include significant job creation in both countries.
"India is a leading partner in our efforts to promote regional stability, peace and economic growth," Roemer added.
The C-17 is the workhorse of the US Air Force transport fleet and has proven to be highly reliable in the harsh environments of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The IAF would use the C-17s to modernise India's armed forces with new cargo capabilities and as a replacement for its ageing Russian IL-76 fleet.
With a 75-tonne payload, the C-17 can take off from a 7,000-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles in one go, and land even on a small, austere airfield at 3,000 feet or less.
In addition to the US Air Force, the C-17 is currently in service with the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Canadian Forces, NATO and Qatar. The UAE too has placed orders for the aircraft.
Although the official notification to Congress lists the potential value as USD 5.8 billion, this represents the highest possible estimate for the sale, and includes all potential services offered.
The actual cost will be based on IAF's requirements and is yet to be negotiated.
In addition to the C-17 airplanes themselves, if the IAF desires, it could purchase services that could include training for aircrew and maintenance personnel, spare parts, test and ground support equipment, technical assistance, engineering services, IAF-specific unique modifications, logistical and technical support.