The proposal was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on December 20. The two sides signed the deal on Friday under which US Air Force will supply the aircraft to the IAF through the Foreign Military Sales route, sources said in Delhi.

The IAF already has a fleet of six similar planes which are deployed at the Hindon air base near Delhi and the force uses it for carrying out special operations including landing on inhospitable air strips in the Ladakh area. The IAF had acquired the first lot of six aircraft at a cost of around Rs 5,500 crore.

The new lot of six planes will be located at Panagarh in West Bengal, which would be headquarters of the proposed Mountain Strike Corps of the army along the China border. The aircraft is capable of airdropping commandos and material in darkness due to its night-vision imaging. It can prove very handy in wartime due to its ability for special air operations and transport of material and supplies.

It can be used in mountainous terrain in hostile circumstances. The four-engine plane with Rolls Royce engines has the technology and configuration to perform low-level precision flying.


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