The Indian defense ministry signed the foreign military sales agreement with the US government to acquire 10 C-17 transports by 2014, announced Boeing Wednesday. This “transaction reaffirms our close relationship of several decades with India and also highlights our commitment to the strategic partnership between the two countries,” stated Dinesh Keskar, president of Boeing’s India operations. Under the agreed framework, Boeing will deliver all 10 aircraft between 2013 and 2014. This transaction paves the way for the Indian air force to field the largest C-17 fleet outside of the United States. Congress approved the sale last May; the Indian government signed off on it earlier this month. Indian interest in the C-17 was reaffirmed last June during an operational trial of the aircraft in India, proving it met IAF requirements. The Economic Times, an Indian publication, reported that the IAF might seek to acquire up to eight additional C-17s at a later point.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.