The first C-17 Globemaster III of the Indian Air Force (IAF) landed at Hindon, close to New Delhi, on Tuesday. This is the first of ten aircraft the air force is acquiring over the next couple of years, in an order worth USD 4.1 billion.
This delivery comes almost exactly two years after India signed the order for the aircraft.
The aircraft took off from the company’s manufacturing plant at Long Beach, California on June 11 and made several stops, including one at Barcelona, before it arrived in India. The next four aircraft will be delivered by Boeing in 2013, itself, with the second coming next month in July, third in August, fourth in October and fifth in November. The remaining five aircraft will be delivered before the end of 2014.
The IAF said in a statement that the aircraft was received by the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal S. Sukumar at Hindon, where it will be based. The training of aircrew and ground crew was conducted by the United States Air Force (USAF).
Boeing, in its statement, congratulated the IAF following the arrival of the aircraft, while pointing out that India will become the largest operator of the aircraft outside the U.S. The statement quoted Boeing India president, Pratyush Kumar as saying, “This is an affirmation of the outstanding partnership that Boeing has with the Ministry of Defense and Indian Air Force.”
Dennis Swanson, regional director of international business development for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, was also quoted by the statement as saying,“The C-17 will enhance the IAF’s ability to transport large payloads across vast ranges, land on short, austere runways, and operate in extremely hot and cold climates.”
The company statement also pointed out its delivery performance with the arrival of the C-17 coming ‘a month after the on-schedule arrival of the first Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy’. Boeing is to deliver a total of eight P-8I aircraft to the navy.
Boeing has delivered 254 C-17 aircraft to date, with 222 to the USAF. Other operators include Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations who, between themselves, fly 32 of these aircraft.
The IAF is part of the Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP), through which Boeing will support the IAF C-17 fleet by providing access to an ‘extensive worldwide parts and maintenance network, which keeps costs down’, according to the company.