The Indian Air Force (IAF) will buy six more C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport aircraft in addition to the 10 already being acquired.
India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) quotes the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, as saying in its coming issue that these aircraft will also be purchased through the government-to-government route under the US' Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.
The US Air Force (USAF), which is the nodal agency for the aircraft sale in this case, has already demonstrated the capability of the
C-17. One aircraft was brought to India in June and was made to land and take off from a short field in Himachal Pradesh as also from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.
Discussions between the two governments to finalise the IAF's onboard equipment requirements, spares and service support and their duration, possibly over the lifetime of the aircraft, are still being held and are likely to be finalized soon.
The C-17 can ferry more than 70 tonnes of load over long distances, and can also be refueled in midair.
At present, India has less than 20 Il-76 heavy-lift aircraft, acquired in 1985 from what was then the Soviet Union. With a capacity of 45 tonnes, the aircraft is being upgraded to obtain a life extension of 10-15 years.