New Delhi has submitted a letter of request to the US government for the possible acquisition of up to 10 Boeing C-17 strategic transports, with the move forming part of a programme to replace its air force's aged Antonov An-32s and Ilyushin Il-76s.
Announcing the development on 8 January, Boeing said it believes "the C-17 can fulfill India's needs for military and humanitarian airlift to help it meet its growing domestic and international responsibilities".
It is not clear when a deal could be approved, or how much it would cost. However, industry sources say
© Maj Sam Highley/US Air Force
The release of a letter of request is the first step towards a possible future acquisition of the type, which is also already in service with the air forces of Australia, Canada, Qatar and the UK, and with a consortium of 12 NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. The United Arab Emirates also earlier this month signed a deal to acquire six of the type.
If confirmed, an Indian air force order for 10 aircraft would rank the service second only to the USAF in C-17 fleet size. The UK Royal Air Force currently holds this distinction with six operational examples, with its seventh to be introduced in December 2010.
A C-17 deal would also be the second major contract from
The Indian armed forces is in the middle of its biggest modernisation programme, with several big ticket contracts up for grabs. The largest is a $10-12 billion competition for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft. The air force is assessing the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, RSK MiG-35 and Saab Gripen NG.