In one of the most recent developments that is expanding the Indian Air Force’s transport fleet, the Indian Ministry of Defence has signed an agreement for ten Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters. The Foreign Military Sale (FMS) – approved by the US Congress in May 2010 – establishes India as the C-17’s largest international customer. At the same time India is buying Lockheed C-130Js and other transport aircraft.
According to the agreement, India will take delivery of its C-17s in 2013 and 2014, Boeing has announced.
“The C-17 will elevate India’s leadership in the region,” said Dinesh Keskar, president, Boeing India. “With its tactical and strategic capabilities, the C-17 fulfills India’s needs for military and humanitarian airlift. The important transaction reaffirms our close relationship of several decades with India and also highlights our commitment to the strategic partnership between the two countries.”
“This agreement is a reflection of the outstanding partnership India’s Ministry of Defence has with the US Air Force, which worked very hard to help India strengthen its airlift capabilities with the C-17,” said Jean Chamberlin, vice president and general manager, Boeing Mobility. “The aircraft’s ability to transport large payloads across vast ranges, land on short, austere runways, and operate in extremely hot and cold climates makes it ideal for the region.”
Boeing will support India’s C-17 fleet through the C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership, a proven multinational Performance-Based Logistics program. The GSP “virtual fleet” arrangement ensures mission readiness by providing all C-17 customers — with varied fleet sizes — access to an extensive support network for worldwide parts availability and economies of scale when purchasing materials.
“Boeing is pleased that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected the C-17 to support its airlift mission,” said Mark Kronenberg, vice president of International Business Development for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We look forward to partnering with India as we move forward with the agreement’s 30 percent offset program, which will help strengthen India’s aerospace and defense capabilities.”
During rigorous field evaluation trials in India in June 2010, the C-17 met all of the IAF’s airlift requirements.
A tactical and strategic airlifter, the C-17 can land combat-ready troops on unprepared airstrips. The C-17’s ability to back up allows it to operate on narrow taxiways and congested ramps. With a maximum payload of 164 900 pounds (74 797 kg), the C-17 can take off and land in 3 000 feet (914.4 m) or less.
The Indian Air Force is completely revamping its transport fleet to give it a global reach within the decade. On February 3 the first of six new Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules arrived in India. Purchased for US$1.2 billion in January 2008, they are the first American aircraft bought by India in decades. They mark the country’s first transaction with the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system after decades of Cold War hostility and sanctions between 1998 and 2001 following India’s nuclear tests. The C-130Js will most likely be followed by a supplementary order for another six.
The third and fourth C-130Js bound for India left Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, yesterday. The remainder will be delivered to India within the next two months.
The Indian Air Force is also looking at purchasing 16 medium-lift transport aircraft, with the Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan and Airbus Military C-295 under consideration. In addition, India has created a US$600 million joint venture with Russia to develop the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)/HAL Il-214 Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA), which will have a payload capacity of 33-44 000 lb (15-20 tons). The two firms plan to make 205 of the twin jet MTAs.
Making up the core of India’s transport fleet are 17 Il-76s and roughly 110 Antonov An-32s. 105 An-32s are undergoing an eight-year long mid-life refurbishment upgrade in the Ukraine under a US$400 million contract signed in 2009. The upgrade will extend their service lives by 15 years, allowing the An-32 to fly for at least another decade. Other transports in the IAF include nearly 30 Dornier Do 228s and 60 Hawker Siddeley HS 748s.