Boeing expects to finalise a deal with India for 10 C-17 strategic transports by the middle of 2011, while Delhi could buy additional C-17s and more P-8I maritime patrol aircraft.

"The offsets package relating to the [C-17] deal has already been approved," Boeing Military Aircraft president Chris Chadwick told India's Economic Times newspaper. "The Indian air force has to go through numerous government gateways before a final seal of approval can be given. Defence deals of this magnitude do take some time to close, and I expect them to take a decision by mid-2011."

Chadwick's remarks follow Indian media speculation that confirmation of the deal was being held up because the Indian government was reviewing its cost with the US government. During US President Barack Obama's visit to India in late 2010, the White House pegged the value of the 10 aircraft deal at $4.1 billion.

Indian Air Force C-17
 © Billypix
C-17 at Aero India

Chadwick is also reported as saying that Boeing is in "informal talks" for an additional six C-17s.

Separately, India's Defence Advisory Council has approved the purchase of four additional P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian navy, says an industry source. If the deal is concluded it would add to an eight-aircraft P-8I deal that India signed in January 2009.

Last December, Boeing said that production had started on India's first P-8I, when subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems cut a bonded aluminium panel to be installed on the fuselage's upper lobe to support an antenna. The P-8I is derived from the Boeing 737 airliner. Spirit designs and produces all 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons.

In mid-2011 Spirit will ship the fuselage from its Wichita factory in Kansas to the Boeing Commercial Airplanes facility in Renton, Washington, where the aircraft will undergo final assembly. After this, Boeing plans to install mission systems, test them, and then deliver the aircraft to India before January 2013.

Boeing has also proposed a variant of the P-8I for a request for information that India issued in late February for a medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The requirement foresees an aircraft capable of maritime patrol, anti-surface warfare, electronic intelligence and search and rescue tasks. Candidates must have two engines and be capable of all-weather operations. An industry source says Sweden's Saab has pitched its Saab 2000 maritime patrol aircraft.

Source: Flight International