September 09, 2013: With a successful induction of three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavylift transports into Hindon's 81 Squadron 'Skylords' last week, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is now hoping for an early conclusion of a follow-on deal for six aircraft. Top sources indicate that the process, which was begun under former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, is now being pushed through, with the IAF conveying to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that unless the process is begun with the United States' Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), India will lose the opportunity to place orders for additional aircraft, since the deadline for fresh orders from Boeing's Long Beach facility expires by early next year.
While the IAF had ideally wanted 10 more aircraft, an assessment of squadron requirements, asset deployments, etc has brought the number down to six. With a total of 16 aircraft, the IAF will split eight aircraft between two squadrons, the second to be raised under the Eastern Air Command. The C-17 platform will also be used soon for airdropping and landing at the Daulat Beg Oldie airfield, after an assessment is conducted of the feasibility and possibility, given that it will be the largest aircraft ever to land at such a high altitude.