The Indian press says New Delhi is holding up a blockbuster deal for 10 Boeing C-17s. There's apparently some concerns about the bill, which the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) estimates could cost as much as $5.8 billion. Ouch! That's worth as much as $580 million per aircraft.
This raises one of my frequent gripes about DSCA's mandatory notifications to Congress. In short, they make no sense.
According to DSCA, the same aircraft with nearly identical equipment and extra features will result in a wild range of costs, depending on which country is buying. It's not unreasonable for some countries to think they're getting a bad deal if all they're reading are the DSCA notifications.
Consider four recent sales announcements by the DSCA. If you go by these numbers, Australia is buying its latest C-17 ($300 million) for nearly half the price of India's deal ($580 million each) despite ordering superior equipment, such as the large aircraft infrared countermeasures system (LAIRCM). Similarly, NATO is buying two C-17s for nearly the same price ($700 million) that Kuwait is buying only one ($693 million).