WASHINGTON Hours before the start of the crucial Indo-US strategic dialogue on Wednesday, Congress cleared the sale of C-17 Globemaster III strategic aircraft for India that would boost New Delhis military capacity. The Obama administration had in April notified the US Congress of the potential sale of 10 C-17 aircraft to India and sought approval in this regard. We are pleased that Indias intent to buy 10 C-17 Globemaster III has received US congressional approval, Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President and Country Head, Boeing Defence, Space and Security, India, was quoted by an Indian news agency report as saying in New Delhi. With this, the Indian government is one step closer to acquiring the C-17 which we believe is ideally suited to meet Indias airlift needs for military and humanitarian purposes, he said. The submittal of the Letter of Acceptance to the Government of India will be the next step towards finalising the Foreign Military Sale, Lall said. The aircraft are being sold to India under the US Governments Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, with the maximum package value of USD 5.8 billion. That includes the 3.8 percent administrative fee that the government charges to ensure timely delivery and guarantee the supplies, reported India Strategic in its latest issue. A senior Obama Administration official William Burns has defended arms sale to India by arguing that this commensurate with New Delhis expanding role as well as Americas own interest. The actual cost of the C-17 aircraft for India would be less as India would not be buying all the options and the 3.8 percent fee would be payable only on the actual amount of the deal. In some countries, the administrative fee ranges up to 18 percent. The Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief of Staff, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, said last year that IAF was looking for 10 plus 10 C-17s, described in its parlance as VHTAC, or Very Heavy Transport Aircraft, as a replacement for its ageing fleet of Soviet vintage IL-76 transport jets. India has 17 IL-76 transporters, another six as IL-78 midair refuelers and one as an AWACS with Israeli Phalcon electronic rodome radar. But IL-76 is out of production after the demise of the Soviet Union, and whatever useable airframes were available, they have mostly been taken by China. An IL-76 can carry up to 45 tonnes of cargo while a C-17 can carry about 75 tonnes, and for a much longer range. A C-17 can land from grassy, football field size strips and needs only three crew members as against seven for an IL-76.