Unable to process its request in time to buy three C-17 Globemaster heavylift transport aircraft from the US, the Air Force is now moving a proposal to buy the only remaining aircraft in the American inventory for over Rs 2,500 crore before the Defence Ministry.
Originally, the Air Force wanted to buy three C-17 planes from the US, which has stopped the production of these planes at its facility in Long Beach, California but the American government was left only with one plane for sale.
“We will now buy whatever we can and are planning to buy the single aircraft left with the US. In this regard, we are planning to move our proposal in a key Defence Ministry meeting planned to be held this month,” a senior IAF source told Mail
WHY THIS AIRCRAFT
The aircraft would help the Air Force expand its inventory of 10 C-17 Globemaster heavylift transport aircraft which has been used by the force to carry out several major operations including airlift of new currency notes after the demonetisation drive by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The price of the single aircraft would be more than Rs2,500 crore and would be delivered in couple of years after the contract is signed between India and the US under a Foreign Military Sales route contract.
India had bought the previous 10 aircraft from the American government under a $4.1 billion (Rs2,780 crore approx) deal and all of them are deployed at its Hindon air force base near here.
With additional three aircraft, the IAF wanted to enhance its capability to airlift men and material during times of crisis as it did during the earthquake in Nepal and natural disasters in eastern parts of the country.
Apart from the natural disasters, the aircraft have also provided the capability to the air force to directly airlift tanks and infantry combat vehicles from the plains to high mountainous areas of Ladakh on the border with China. The plane can also airlift around 300 fullygeared troops for operations and can fly from country’s northernmost airfield in Leh to southernmost runway in Andaman and Nicobar island territory directly and provides capability of fast deployment of troops from one place to the other.
In a presentation given to the Prime Minister on the requirements of the Air Force last year, the Air Force had pressed upon the need for more such aircraft due to their utility and performance in operations. However, owing to certain infrastructure issues, the fleet of American planes is yet to be fully utilised and this was also pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General in one of its recent reports.