US aircraft manufacturer Boeing Friday said that the Indian Air Force has shown its interest in acquiring 10 heavy transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster.
"Boeing is very pleased that the Indian government has expressed interest in acquiring the C-17 to modernise its airlift capabilities, and we look forward to working closely with them," Vivek Lall, India country head of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems, said here. according to a statement.
"We believe the C-17 can fulfill India's needs for military and humanitarian airlift to help it meet its growing domestic and international responsibilities. With a payload of up to 170,000 pounds (over 77 tonnes), the C-17 can take off and land in 3,000 feet or less," Lall said adding that the US government has received a letter of request from New Delhi.
According to sources in the defence ministry, the letter was sent last year.
India is looking to spend more than $50 billion over the next five years to modernise its defence systems.
Notably, except for the Su30-MKI fighter jet, all the combat and transport aircraft of the IAF were acquired in the 1980s, and IAF needs new, and newer generation, aircraft to replace and augment that capacity.
India has about 100-plus medium An-32 and less than 20 heavy lift IL-76 aircraft. It is difficult to get their spares as the Soviet Union where they were made has disintegrated into Russia and other states. The IAF has acquired old, refurbished IL-76 platforms for its AWACS and Midair Refueler requirements.
An IL-76 can carry a cargo of around 45 tonnes and has a crew of six while a C-17 can carry over 70 tonnes, and is easier to operate with a small crew of three -- two pilots and one loadmaster, thanks to its various power-assisted systems. Two observers can also be seated.
Despite its massive size - 174 ft length, 55 ft height and about 170 ft wingspan - a pilot can fly the C-17 with a simple joystick, much like a fighter aircraft, which can be lifesaving in a battlezone as the aircraft can take off quickly and at steep angles. It is powered by four Pratt & Whitney F-117-PW-100 turbofan engines.
The C-17 can carry large combat equipment and troops or humanitarian aid across international distances directly to small, austere airfields anywhere in the world.
There are currently 212 C-17s in service worldwide -- 19 with international customers. The US Air Force, including active guard and reserve units, has 193. International customers include Qatar, Britain's Royal Air Force, Canada , the Royal Australian Air Force, and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
Barely a day ago, the UAE signed a contract for the acquisition of six Boeing C-17 Globemaster III advanced airlifters.