Sunday, November 07, 2010

Done Deal

India and the US have finalised a contract for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III heavylift transports. The IAF is likely to quickly exercise options for six more airplanes as well. The contract will be signed shortly, though there are no indications of precisely when. While an official figure hasn't been released yet, it is expected to exceed $4-billion, and become India's single most expensive military purchase from the US so far. The C-17s will be built at Boeing's facility in Long Beach, California. I visited the C-17 facility in 2008 -- will post photos and more info later.

These are beautiful airplanes, but there's been a lot of debate about whether India really needs 10 C-17s. Notwithstanding the IAF chief's assertion that the selection was a considered one (and not foisted onto the IAF for political reasons), there's still a view that the IAF would rather have spent the ~$4-billion on material of more immediate priority.

As always, do post your thoughts.

Photo ©Copyright US Air Force / By Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts

22 comments :

Pratik Das said...

Prioritisation of funds aside, I think we'll be very glad we have these planes when push comes to shove.

Pratik Sawerdekar said...

Its a good buy for IAF, it needs heavy lift aircraft which will carry more than the IL-76. We must not forget that IAF's airlift capability is at the heart of Anti-China strategy.

Anonymous said...

India is getting screwed on this deal. The unit cost of each C-17 Globemaster is $191 Million. So that should be around $2 billion dollars. Why are we paying twice that amount???

indian said...

why we are wasting our money

Anonymous said...

I personally think that the C-17 is important as India needs to increase it's airlift capability to counter China's rapid infrastructure growth.

We are well aware of how long it will take for India to develop infrastructure in the North East, so a good interim measure is to increase our airlift capabilities.

Gautam said...

If anything these purchases are inadequate and reek of the UPA government's defence penny-pinching. After the long deplyoment times for operation Parakram in 2002 the IAF concluded that it needed to TRIPLE its current airlifting capacity and not merely replace the An-32s and IL-76s in order to carry out rapid full-scale deployment during wartime.

We need at least 25-30 C-17s and 90 MTAs, not 10 and 45, respectively.

Anonymous said...

India needs C17s and perhaps even larger planes, but the cost is simply too high.

Anonymous said...

those who say $4billion IAF is blowing on c-17 must rethink because the IL-76 are ageing AFAIK more than 25years in IAF so time has come to replace or do we want IL_76 to become flying coffins.

Vivek said...

Anon@11.55AM - Because $191 million is the flyaway cost. The contract has spares and maintenance support written in as well. Its the same with all other aircraft as well.

Rahul Devnath said...

IAF in next 5 years needs a heavy lift aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Il-76MDs which have become difficult to maintain and even after up-gradation remain obsolete.

C-17 well could be a costly option, but indeed the only suitable replacement for ILs. Landing in unprepared and shorter runways, while still carrying a formidable load, is what IAF requires, and C-17s undeniably makes strong statement.

Sushant said...

Quality and Quantity both cost the same. But better quality is far better than less capable quantity.

ivan said...

No issue of buying such a expensive plane, unless and until no terms and condition given by Americans to Indians just as we got during the deal of C-130J super Hercules. We didn't got hi-tech support equipment from U.S when we signed the deal with U.S, because they told India should sign CISMOA for getting those high -tech equipment.

mirza said...

Life cycle cost 4$bln

Anonymous said...

we are doing good job but with unreliable party i think an 124 is best for heavy lift ob

nikhilesh said...

in case an 1`24 is larger than c 17 by 10 m and per unit cost is 70 - 100 million and come tot

Anonymous said...

C-17 is waaaaay too expensive..we cud have bought the double of IL-76s etc...for this....we should compromise a bit on quality and get greater numbers...

Anonymous said...

Il-76 is at the end of the road, no upgrades have been made to the design for >30 years. Russians estimate that the cost of a design upgrade and retooling exceeds the cost of a new design. The Russians know what is to be done and how to do it in spades, but don't have the money for it. They would like to partner with India but India is wary after the long commitment to the Gorshkov upgrade (even if the estimate pad up was used to build the Arihant class as some wags say). Yes we can go for the C-5 or An-124 but although it is comparatively recent vintage, its design concepts aren't. I would have been happier maybe with the EADS giant transport frames, but there is also a question of design maturity to be reckoned. Although EADS transport airframe designs are the most contemporary - beating anything the US airframe makers have by at least a decade, India probably wouldn't like be the test bed.

Indian said...

We need much many of those

mere 17 wont do

Anonymous said...

Apologies for bringing up an unrelated topic in this forum, but a small suggestion. I request the government to setup a fund called "India Defense Fund" that can receive contributions from the public, in order to fund fast track acquisitions of urgently required defense upgrades. This apart from allocations made in the budget for defense. There could be 100% tax deduction given to people/companies who contribute to this fund. Please support this idea.

Gergely said...

"India is getting screwed on this deal. The unit cost of each C-17 Globemaster is $191 Million. So that should be around $2 billion dollars. Why are we paying twice that amount??? "

The raw price of 1 F35 is aprox 90m$. Then why would it cost 140m$ for aus? Cause aus buys F35 simulator, buys training, buys amraam, buys spare parts, buy support....

or check the UAE C17 deal. 4 C17 for 2billon$! But in the next 20year the dont have to care about anything. Each day they will have 4 C17 capacity.

Ravi said...

C-17 can take-off/land in a bit over 1000-meters at sea-level. Its very well suited for the border. The aircraft has twice the payload of an Il-76, which is now obsolete. An-124 is like the US C-5, a strategic aircraft which is very expensive to operate and no use for the border. C-17 is both a strategic and tactical transport. The smaller a buy, the higher the per aircraft cost. A straight buy of 40 would have been better. As for resources, I think with India's GDP going to $2-trillion by 2015, we are no longer short of resources. We have to stop thinking "poor".

Ravi said...

Sorry - forgot to mention, C-17 is also for Western front. It can put down on dirt airstrips. With 16 aircraft, 75% max payload, and 75% availability, you can land 700-tons of supplies in one fleet sortie - enough to keep an armored division going for a day in a high speed offensive. And dont forget disaster relief: this aircraft can put down on many, many airfields that cant handle Il-76. Thanks