Acquisition of C-17 Boeing Transport Aircraft

On 22 Apr, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress about the proposed sale of ten C-17 Boeing Globe Master III Transport aircraft to India, This is an important step forward in the US Foreign military sales process. The US Ambassador to India, Timothy Joe Roemer said that the sale of the C-17 aircraft would strengthen the growing partnership between India and the US and demonstrate America’s commitment to sharing the best technology with India. The sale, he said, would offer economic benefit to India and US and will likely include significant job creation in both countries. The C-17 is a versatile transport aircraft that is in many respects superior to the IL-76. The Indian Air force was seeking replacement for its aging fleet of IL-76 Transport aircraft . It was facing considerable difficulties due to the production slow down at the Illuyshin’s Tashkent Factory in Uzbekistan . The IL-76 can carry upto 47 metric Tons (MT). The C-17 can carry 77.5 MT. The maximum range of the IL-76 is 3650 kms with full load whereas the C-17 can fly upto 4482 kms with full load. The C-17 can take off from runways of 7000 ft length and land at rather austere airfields of just 3000 ft. As such, performance parameters wise, this aircraft is significantly superior to the IL-76 which has been the mainstay of our long range air transport fleet. The Table below gives a comparative estimate of the two aircrafts. The C-17 has proved to be a rugged workhorse in the taxing conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Its addition would give a significant boost to India’s ability to maintain its forces in the Himalayan region as also greatly enhance its capacity to react to out of area contingencies.

Although the official notification to the US Congress lists the potential value of the deal at $ 5.8 bn, this represents the highest possible value for the sale. Much would depend upon the possible services (like training of air crews and maintenance staff, training equipment, spares and repairs, engineering services and unique modifications for Indian conditions that the IAF goes in for. Each C-17 aircraft costs $220 million approximately. As such the cost of 10 Aircraft alone would be$ 2.2 Bn. Depending upon the ancillary/support equipment, the deal could go up to $ 3 bn and more. As such this deal would be larger than the P-8 Boeing Maritime Reconnaissance air craft deal that was inked last year for $ 2.1 Billion.


Capability Comparison of C-17 Globemaster II and Ilyushin IL-76



C-17 Globemaster II Ilyushin IL-76

C-17 Globemaster II

Ilyushin IL-76

  • Crew: 3: 2 pilots, 1 loadmaster
  • Capacity:
    • 102 troops with standard centerline seats or
    • 134 troops with palletized seats or
    • 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients or
    • Cargo, such as an M1 Abrams tank
  • Payload: 170,900 lb (77,519 kg) of cargo distributed at max over 18 463L master pallets or a mix of palletized cargo and vehicles
  • Length: 174 ft (53 m)
  • Wingspan: 169.8 ft (51.75 m)
  • Height: 55.1 ft (16.8 m)
  • Wing area: 3,800 ft² (353 m²)
  • Empty weight: 282,500 lb (128,100 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 585,000 lb (265,350 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofans, 40,440 lbf (180 kN) each
  • Fuel capacity: 35,546 US gal (134,556 L)


  • Crew: 5–7
  • Capacity: 40,000 kg (Il-76)[nb 1]
  • Payload: 45 – 47 tonnes (~50 tons)
  • Length: 46.59 m (152 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 50.5 m (165 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 14.76 m (48 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 300.0 m² (3,229.2 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 72,000 kg (Il-76)[nb 2] (159,000 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 157,000 kg (Il-76)[nb 3] (346,000 lb (Il-76))
  • Powerplant:Soloviev D-30KP turbofans, 118 kN (26,500 lbf) each



  • Guns: 2× 23 mm cannon in radar-directed manned turret at base of tail
  • Bombs: Some military models have 2 hardpoints under each outer wing capable of supporting 500 kg bombs.
Source : Wikipedia

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