India has formally cleared the biggest-ever Indo-US defence deal, the $4.1 billion contract for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant strategic airlift aircraft.
All decks for the almost Rs 19,000-crore deal, which will support over 22,000 jobs in the US as Barack Obama himself put it, were cleared last month. On Monday, the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by PM Manmohan Singh gave the final go-ahead for the contract, under which the 10 Globemasters are to be delivered to IAF between 2013 and 2015.
The $4.1 billion deal, in fact, could well become even bigger at a later stage. "They are fantastic aircraft, which we chose after a deep study of what all was available in the world market...After the first 10 Globemasters, we will examine the option to go in for another six,'' IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told .
Capable of carrying a maximum payload of 77.5 tonnes, which can include combat vehicles, artillery guns and battle-ready troops, the Boeing-manufactured Globemasters will seriously boost India's swift power projection capabilities in its "primary area of geo-strategic interest'' stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait.
The Globemaster from "Block 19'', which India will get, after all has a maximum range of 9,200 km. "They can carry twice the load of our present IL-76 `Gajraj' aircraft (IAF has around a dozen of these Russian-origin aircraft). Importantly, they can also operate from short airstrips,'' said ACM Naik.
With the four-engine C-17s capable of taking off and landing even on makeshift runways, barely 3,500-feet long and 90-feet wide, India will be able to transport soldiers and combat systems to forward areas both on western and eastern fronts much faster.
This swift-reaction capability will be crucial in countering China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control, which includes five fully-operational airbases in Tibet.
The Globemaster deal, which some have termed "exorbitant'', will assuage the US, which is still to reconcile with its F/A-18 `Super Hornet' and F-16 `Falcon' fighters losing out to European fighters in the India's $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 jets.
Despite all the noise being made over India choosing a fighter over "a strategic partnership'' with the US, the fact remains that if the deals in the pipeline are also taken into account, America has bagged contracts worth well over $11 billion in the military aviation sector alone.
Of course this is a good deal. Do we smell any scam here?? When there is a large amount of money and govt involved this is our first thought.. but lets just hope this is a clear deal!