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Indias Ministry of Defense has sent a Letter of Request to the US government for procurement through the U.S. governments Foreign Military Sales route for ten heavy lift Boeing C-17s.
This follows immediately after United Arab Emirates announcement for the purchase of six C-17s.
U.S has been in discussions with the Indian government and Boeing recently completed a series of C-17 demonstration flights in India. In Nov last year, in a joint-lift exercise, the U.S Air Force flew the C-17 in Agra.
Aviation Week had reported (Aerospace Daily Aug 19,2009) Boeings keenness to offer India the C-17, which can carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields. The C-17 fits in well with Indias operational requirements, Vivek Lall, Head India Boeing IDS had said.The U.S. government received a request for information in 2008, he added then.
A senior Indian air force official recently said the aircraft had been chosen after a thorough study because of its range, ease of operation and capability to take off and land on short runways with heavy loads.
India's present transport fleet has 40 Russian-made IL-76 and over 100 Soviet-built AN-32 cargo aircraft. Six Lockheed Martin C-130Js are on order to be delivered in 2011. The AN-32s are currently undergoing mid-life refurbishment under a joint project with Russias Irkut.
The high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed aircraft with a rear-loading ramp, can carry large combat equipment and troops or humanitarian aid across vast distances directly, is said to be the perfect fit for Indias remote airfields.
The C-17 Globemaster III was on display and participated in daily aerial demonstrations during the Bangalore Air Show last year in February.
It has a payload of 160,000 pounds, the C-17 can take off from a 7,600ft airfield, fly 2,400 na mi, and land on a small, austere airfield in 3,000 ft or less. The C-17 is equipped with an externally blown flap system that allows a steep, low-speed final approach and low-landing speeds for routine short-field landings, according to the Boeing website.