Military Capabilities

India to receive final 'white-tail' C-17

28 June 2017
India looks set to receive a further C-17 to add to the 10 it already fields, after the US State Department approved a potential sale on 26 June. Source: Boeing

The announcement on 26 June that India is to receive another Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter has brought to an end a two-year effort to sign up a customer for the last aircraft to roll off the now-closed production line at Long Beach, California.

The US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the State Department has approved the sale to India of the final C-17 for USD336.2 million. The proposed deal, which still needs to be approved by Congress, covers equipment as well as sustainment and support in addition to the aircraft. The Indian Air Force (IAF) already fields 10 C-17s that are flown by 81 Squadron out of Hindon Air Force Station, near Delhi.

As with all the other operators of the C-17, the IAF's fleet is supported by Boeing via its Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) performance-based logistics contract. This 'virtual fleet' enables international customers to tap into the US Air Force's (USAF's) vast support infrastructure. It is likely that a large percentage of the value of this proposed Indian sale is related to the aircraft's through-life sustainment and support through the GISP programme.

In 2016, an official from the USAF Air War College in Alabama said there was "a fight going on between the Qataris, the Indians, and the Australians to get the last C-17", which it appears the Indians have now won.

Boeing built a total of 275 C-17s at its Long Beach facility from 1991 to 2015. This run spanned 222 aircraft for the USAF (one of which was lost in an accident); 11 for India (including this latest aircraft); eight for Australia; eight for Qatar; eight for the United Arab Emirates (UAE); eight for the United Kingdom; five for Canada; three for NATO and the Partnership for Peace nations; and two for Kuwait.

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