The Indian Air Force is hoping to procure three Boeing C-17 aircraft it had cleared for purchase since August this year.
An IAF source told defenseworld.net correspondent that the plan to procure three aircraft for which an INR 8100 crore (US$ 1.2 billion) funding had been proposed, was on but it was not clear when the force would receive them.
A Boeing representative said that only one was available for sale as all the remaining C-17s had been taken up by other customers. The production line of the C-17 has since been shut.
India has acquired 10 C-17s and finds them immensely useful in transporting military cargo and in humanitarian operations. It had subsequently mooted a proposal to acquire six additional aircraft but the government okayed only three but that too seems doubtful given that nine out of 10 available for sale at the time Boeing decided to shut C-17 production last year have been committed elsewhere.
While India was still considering additional orders for the C-17, Kuwait picked up two, Australia two, Canada one and Qatar four of the last 10 available. Industry sources said that unless there are order cancellations or the US governments accommodates India from the US Air Force inventory, chances of receiving the three C-17s is bleak.
India’s defence acquisition council (DAC) which gives the final go-ahead for procurement projects has not yet cleared the additional three C-17 acquisition. This is indicative of the fact that the purchase may not happen in the near future, said an industry source.
An option for India is to consider the Russian Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A heavy lift aircraft the modernized version of the venerable IL-76. Though it has lesser cargo carrying capacity than the C-17, in the absence of the Boeing plane, this may be the only option.