Done Deal

India and the US have finalised a contract for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III heavylift transports. The IAF is likely to quickly exercise options for six more airplanes as well. The contract will be signed shortly, though there are no indications of precisely when. While an official figure hasn’t been released yet, it is expected to exceed $4-billion, and become India’s single most expensive military purchase from the US so far. The C-17s will be built at Boeing’s facility in Long Beach, California. I visited the C-17 facility in 2008 — will post photos and more info later.

These are beautiful airplanes, but there’s been a lot of debate about whether India really needs 10 C-17s. Notwithstanding the IAF chief’s assertion that the selection was a considered one (and not foisted onto the IAF for political reasons), there’s still a view that the IAF would rather have spent the ~$4-billion on material of more immediate priority.

As always, do post your thoughts.

Photo ┬ęCopyright US Air Force / By Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts

22 thoughts on “Done Deal”

  1. India is getting screwed on this deal. The unit cost of each C-17 Globemaster is $191 Million. So that should be around $2 billion dollars. Why are we paying twice that amount???

  2. I personally think that the C-17 is important as India needs to increase it's airlift capability to counter China's rapid infrastructure growth.

    We are well aware of how long it will take for India to develop infrastructure in the North East, so a good interim measure is to increase our airlift capabilities.

  3. If anything these purchases are inadequate and reek of the UPA government's defence penny-pinching. After the long deplyoment times for operation Parakram in 2002 the IAF concluded that it needed to TRIPLE its current airlifting capacity and not merely replace the An-32s and IL-76s in order to carry out rapid full-scale deployment during wartime.

    We need at least 25-30 C-17s and 90 MTAs, not 10 and 45, respectively.

  4. those who say $4billion IAF is blowing on c-17 must rethink because the IL-76 are ageing AFAIK more than 25years in IAF so time has come to replace or do we want IL_76 to become flying coffins.

  5. IAF in next 5 years needs a heavy lift aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Il-76MDs which have become difficult to maintain and even after up-gradation remain obsolete.

    C-17 well could be a costly option, but indeed the only suitable replacement for ILs. Landing in unprepared and shorter runways, while still carrying a formidable load, is what IAF requires, and C-17s undeniably makes strong statement.

  6. No issue of buying such a expensive plane, unless and until no terms and condition given by Americans to Indians just as we got during the deal of C-130J super Hercules. We didn't got hi-tech support equipment from U.S when we signed the deal with U.S, because they told India should sign CISMOA for getting those high -tech equipment.

  7. C-17 is waaaaay too expensive..we cud have bought the double of IL-76s etc…for this….we should compromise a bit on quality and get greater numbers…

  8. Il-76 is at the end of the road, no upgrades have been made to the design for >30 years. Russians estimate that the cost of a design upgrade and retooling exceeds the cost of a new design. The Russians know what is to be done and how to do it in spades, but don't have the money for it. They would like to partner with India but India is wary after the long commitment to the Gorshkov upgrade (even if the estimate pad up was used to build the Arihant class as some wags say). Yes we can go for the C-5 or An-124 but although it is comparatively recent vintage, its design concepts aren't. I would have been happier maybe with the EADS giant transport frames, but there is also a question of design maturity to be reckoned. Although EADS transport airframe designs are the most contemporary – beating anything the US airframe makers have by at least a decade, India probably wouldn't like be the test bed.

  9. Apologies for bringing up an unrelated topic in this forum, but a small suggestion. I request the government to setup a fund called "India Defense Fund" that can receive contributions from the public, in order to fund fast track acquisitions of urgently required defense upgrades. This apart from allocations made in the budget for defense. There could be 100% tax deduction given to people/companies who contribute to this fund. Please support this idea.

  10. "India is getting screwed on this deal. The unit cost of each C-17 Globemaster is $191 Million. So that should be around $2 billion dollars. Why are we paying twice that amount??? "

    The raw price of 1 F35 is aprox 90m$. Then why would it cost 140m$ for aus? Cause aus buys F35 simulator, buys training, buys amraam, buys spare parts, buy support….

    or check the UAE C17 deal. 4 C17 for 2billon$! But in the next 20year the dont have to care about anything. Each day they will have 4 C17 capacity.

  11. C-17 can take-off/land in a bit over 1000-meters at sea-level. Its very well suited for the border. The aircraft has twice the payload of an Il-76, which is now obsolete. An-124 is like the US C-5, a strategic aircraft which is very expensive to operate and no use for the border. C-17 is both a strategic and tactical transport. The smaller a buy, the higher the per aircraft cost. A straight buy of 40 would have been better. As for resources, I think with India's GDP going to $2-trillion by 2015, we are no longer short of resources. We have to stop thinking "poor".

  12. Sorry – forgot to mention, C-17 is also for Western front. It can put down on dirt airstrips. With 16 aircraft, 75% max payload, and 75% availability, you can land 700-tons of supplies in one fleet sortie – enough to keep an armored division going for a day in a high speed offensive. And dont forget disaster relief: this aircraft can put down on many, many airfields that cant handle Il-76. Thanks

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