“The test flight of the first C17 for India will begin in January. The certification will be done by May and the delivery will start in June. The training of IAF representatives will begin from May this year,” said Patrick Druez, business development (mobility) at Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
In June 2011, the Indian government approved the purchase of 10 C17s, amounting to $4.8 billion. The C17s will replace the IAF’s 17 Il-76 transports, which are only able to carry around 50,000 kg, compared to C17’s 74, 000 kg.
Being able to operate from short, mud-paved landing strips, such as those on India’s borders, the C17 can lift 75-tonne payloads to anywhere in China, Central Asia, the Gulf countries and much of Southeast Asia, without refuelling. Capable of carrying 188 passengers, or 102 fully-kitted paratroopers, the C17 can also transport a battle-loaded Arjun or T-90 tank, or a Chinook helicopter with its rotors dismantled. The IAF is in the process of upgrading its transport fleet, and recently took delivery of six Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, to be used for special operations. It is also developing a medium transport with Russia and seeking new tanker aircraft.
The delivery of Boeing P8I, long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft, is also set to happen by the end of this year. The aircraft completed its first flight in September 2011, and is set to be delivered by December.
To upgrade military equipment, India plans to spend $100 billion over the next decade. One of India’s most ambitious projects is its joint development of a stealth fighter with Russia, based on the Sukhoi T-50. India will start taking delivery of 250 aircraft by 2015.