C-17 A Carefully Considered Choice: IAF Chief

There's been a healthy measure of skepticism recently about India's decision to buy 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III heavylift transports from the US. Arguments against the purchase have ranged from questioning the need for such aircraft to calling attention to the huge acquisition cost, to suspicion about the speed from interest to potential contract conclusion, likely to take place when President Barack Obama is in Delhi later this year.

Well, for what it was worth, the Indian Air Force chief was asked today if the soon to be concluded C-17 deal was simply another piece of business thrown Washington's way in line with India's new strategic imperatives. Air Chief Naik replied, "A great amount of thought and planning has gone into our decision to obtain the C-17. My team did a detailed study about what was available and what capabilities were out there. There were no compulsions. We had requirements that dictated a certain amount of lift capacity and the ability to operate from short runways. The C-17 turned out to be the only aircraft in the global market that met both requirements. The other heavylift types, with six or eight engines, cannot function from short runways, and that was a basic requirement."

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle: Airmen from the 14th Airlift Squadron fly over South Carolina's beaches from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., as a Boeing-built C-17 Globemaster III sheds a shadow on the water below

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