India plans to acquire 10 additional C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft to add to its fleet of six planes acquired from Boeing over the past few years.
"The request for acquiring 10 additional Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft is being processed. Such a purchase will give IAF significant global strategic capability", an official statement from the Indian government said yesterday as part of the year-end review of the Ministry of Defence.
However, Boeing had announced on November 29 that it plans to shut down the C-17 manufacturing facilities due to lack of orders after the last of the iconic planes rolled out of the pant in California, USA.
India had earlier wanted three additional aircraft and it is interesting the requirement has gone up by six even as Boeing started the process of shutting down the plant more than a year ago.
Unless there are order cancellations or the US governments accommodates India from the US Air Force inventory, chances of receiving the C-17s is bleak.
The last of the C-17s has been committed to Qatar, the U.S government had announced earlier.
"This is truly the end of an era. It's a sad day, but one that all of the Boeing employees and suppliers who have worked over the years building this great aircraft can be proud of," Nan Bouchard, vice president and C-17 program manager, Boeing said in a statement marking the end of production of C-17 Globemaster November 30.
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.