The US has laid the groundwork for inking its biggest-ever military deal with India.
Clearing the way for selling 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft worth $ 5.8 billion (Rs 26,100 crore), the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency has notified the Congress of a possible foreign military sale (FMS) to the Indian Air Force.
The notification is a necessary prerequisite to negotiations on the deal.
The Indian defence ministry had requested the US in January 2010 for outright purchase of 10 C-17 planes to modernise the IAF's airlift capabilities.
A tactical and strategic airlifter, the C-17 can deliver combat equipment, troops or humanitarian aid to small airfields.
The aircraft, which is the workhorse of the US Air Force transport fleet, can land troops on semi-prepared runways.
US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said, "The potential sale of C-17s strengthens the growing partnership between our two countries, and demonstrates our enduring commitment to sharing the world's best technology with India."
There are currently 212 C-17s in service worldwide, including 19 with international customers.
A US Embassy release said on Monday, "Although the official notification to Congress lists the potential value as $5.8 billion, this represents the highest possible estimate for the sale and includes all potential services." The actual cost would be based on IAF's requirements and has yet to be negotiated.
Boeing bagged a $2.1-billion (around Rs 9,450 crore) contract for selling eight P-8 long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Indian Navy in January 2009. The first aircraft is to be delivered by 2013 and the remaining over the next two years (2015).