India's consolation prize to US
The government is moving swiftly to mollify the American establishment that is deeply upset over rejection of both their fighter aircraft from the $10 billion MMRCA (medium multirole combat aircraft) contract for the Indian Air Force. Among the steps being taken is a decision to significantly increase the order for C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft from Boeing from the present projection of 10. TOI had first reported about the C-17 deal on May 13.
Besides, the Army is moving quickly to conclude a $1 billion purchase of ultra light howitzer guns in a couple of months. An Army quality assurance team is in the US for final leg of assessments.
Sources said the American side has been told about India's interest to continue with FMS (foreign military sales) government-to-government deals as well as the decision to look at "significantly larger" order for C-17 aircraft. "Ultimately, the total C-17 purchase could be very close to the MMRCA deal," a source said.
He said the Americans were "told" at various levels about India's desire to look at purchasing five to seven more C-17 aircraft. If India were to buy seven more C-17s, then the total deal value would be well over $7 billion. Already, the IAF has a purchase order for 10 of these aircraft.
The MMRCA contract for 126 fighters in which both Boeing's F-18 and Lockheed Martin's F-16 were rejected a few days ago is worth approximately $10 billion.
The Cabinet Committee on Security is expected to approve IAF's original projection for 10 of these transport aircraft, pegged at over $4 billion. The proposed five-to-seven more aircraft "would be approved over the next few months", sources said. Work on increasing the C-17 order is already underway. Among the security agencies set to acquire the massive military aircraft is Aviation Research Centre, the external intelligence agency RAW's aviation arm. Given its capability to airdrop over 100 commandos, C-17s would also be acquired for improving Special Forces capabilities outside of the military, sources said.
Meanwhile, the Army has dispatched a team to the US to carry out quality assurance assessments of maintenance and other technical specifications of M777, the ultra light howitzers manufactured by BAE Systems US and which is proposed to be acquired for deployment in mountains.
Once the team returns, "it wouldn't take much time to conclude the deal", sources said, adding that a June-end deadline was being looked at. He also hinted that this order too could go up, now that the government is expected to approve Army's recommendation to raise a dedicated mountain strike corps for China border.
India's consolation prize to US - The Times of India