miércoles, abril 28, 2010

India Requests Purchase of 10 US C-17 Transport Aircraft

defpro.com India moved one step closer to boosting its heavy airlift capability: Yesterday, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that it recently notified Congress of the Indian government’s request to purchase 10 Boeing-built C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The deal, which is currently being negotiated between India and Boeing and to be carried out within the US Foreign Military Sale (FMS) programme, has an estimated value of $5.8 billion (€4.33 billion). The procurement of these aircraft would represent India’s largest acquisition of US defence equipment as well as Boeing’s largest order from India, following the $2.1 billion contract on the purchase of eight P-8 Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft.

Besides the sale of 10 C-17s, the DSCA reports that the proposed contract will include a possible purchase of 45 Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines (40 installed and 5 spare engines), 10 AN/ALE-47 counter-measures dispensing systems, 10 AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems as well as further associated equipment and services. This will not only benefit the principle contractors, being the Boeing Company and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, but a number of system suppliers, including BAE Systems for the AN/ALE-47.

According to the official DSCA statement, “the acquisition of these C-17s will not present a new capability for the Indian Air Force, but will offer an increase in airlift capacity, reliability, and safety. The C-17 will increase the ability of the GOI [Government of India] to mobilize troops and equipment within the country and will enable India to provide significantly increased humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support within the region.”

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has had an opportunity to take a close look at the US airlift giant during a joint air-lift exercise in India in late October 2009 as well as at the Aero India trade show in February 2009. Since, the Indian government acknowledged that it considered buying a certain number of C-17s to replace or complement its ageing fleet of Russian-built Ilyushin-76. According to 8ak, a media partner of defpro.com, Indian Wing Commander Raghu Rajan (retd) said that the induction of the C-17 would enhance India’s capability to mobilise more number of troops in a short-span of time, since they are bigger than the IL-76 aircraft. Swift mobilisation of resources being one of the key capabilities to win wars, according to Raghu Rajan, this aircraft would prove to be an invaluable asset for the IAF and India.

It is especially the aircraft's performance and flexibility that reportedly convinced the Indian government. This includes its ability to operate from runways as short as 3,500 feet and as narrow as 90 feet .Besides this, the C-17 has been equipped with thrust reversers that can be used to back the aircraft and reverse direction on narrow taxiways using a three-point turn manoeuvre. To further add to its airlift capabilities, the IAF has placed an order for six Lockheed Martin C-130J transport aircraft which are scheduled to be delivered as of 2011.

India may become one of Boeing’s most important international markets, not only due to the C-17 and P-8 contracts, but also including further defence procurement programmes such as the MMRCA fighter aircraft competition in which Boeing is participating with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and which may yield a $12 billion contract for up to 126 aircraft. Earlier this year, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), India head, Dr Vivek Lall told 8ak that Boeing expects an ambitious US$31 billion (€21.63 billion) of defence business in India in the next ten years (see: http://www.defpro.com/daily/details/477/).

By Nicolas von Kospoth, Managing Editor

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