India to receive the final ‘White-Tail’ C-17

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 that 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. Even so, USD336 million is an inordinate amount to pay for one aircraft (Kuwait paid USD371 million for two aircraft plus equipment and support in 2014). In 2016, an official from the USAF Air War College in Alabama said that there was “a fight going on between the Qataris, the Indians, and the Australians to get the last C-17”. From the cost of the deal, it would appear that Boeing may have sold its final aircraft to India at a premium.

By: IHS Janes

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