Discarded and declared unwanted by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, C-17 air crafts are being bought by the Indian Air Force to keep the US industry alive, alleged Tarun Vijay.
On the Indian Air Force deal to procure C-17s from the US, Tarun Vijay, told Rajya Sabha that the Government has signed an agreement with the US Government for procurement of 10 C-17 Globe Master III a very heavy transport aircraft. The total cost of the aircraft and associated equipments is estimated at US $ 4.116 billion. This aircraft has been discarded by the US Air Force and Defence Secretary, Mr Gates. He is on records having rejected its use, way back in 2010. Why, are we buying them now, asked Tarun Vijay.
US media has reported that purchase orders for Boeing C-175 have been declining and the company has recently said it would further bring down annual production rate.
Later Tarun Vijay told media persons that the C-17 is a long running programme that the Pentagon has been desperately trying to kill off for years without success as US Congressmen, scared of the economic impact of the plant closure on their constituents, kept it alive under some pretext or the other. The US Air Force has been attempting to end acquisition of the C-17 since 2006 and focus on upgrading its ageing Lockheed Martin Corp C-5 Galaxy fleet which can happen at a fraction of the cost of the C-17s.
In a speech in May 2010, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had said, “The leadership of the Air Force is clear: They do not need and cannot afford more C-17s.” The attempt by the US Congress to keep the programme alive is being done “at an unnecessary potential cost to the taxpayers of billions of dollars over the next few years,” Gates said.
The impending closure of the plant raises questions as to how the IAF will continue to source aircraft parts and services in the long run as plants would shut down and experts retire.
Tarun Vijay demanded an inquiry into the acquisition of C-17s and the long term impact of this purchase on IAF's defence preparedness.