The Indian Air Force (IAF) will acquire more than 16 Boeing C-17 heavy airlifters to strengthen its strategic capabilities, IAF Air Chief Marshall PV Naik has said.

The India Strategic defence magazine reported the chief as saying that the air force was processing a case for six more of the airlifters and may include additional aircraft on the list.

The Indian Government recently approved the purchase of ten Boeing-built C-17 Globemaster III in a $4.1bn deal for the IAF.

The IAF will replace its existing Soviet-era IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft, which will be in service for another ten years.

The C-17 can operate from very short and unpaved airfields and can be used for mid-air refuelling due to its long-range global capability.