A squadron of Boeing's C-17 Globemaster III are to be implemented in the Indian Air Force from 2013. The military transport aircraft will be used for rapid strategic airlift of the Special Forces in the case of terrorism and other national emergencies. The C-17 is set to replace the Ilyushin II-76 as its largest aircraft transport.
The aircraft boasts the ability to takeoff and land in small airstrips, and re-fuel midair. The C-17 is operated predominantly by the US, but they are also used in the UK, Australia, Canada, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and NATO Heavy Airlift Wing.
A "major join" ceremony took place yesterday in Long Beach, California, where the first of the squadron was featured. IAF and Boeing officials attended the event.
C-17 Indian Air Force
India's consul general in San Francisco, N Parthasarathi, described it as "practically riveting for Indo-US relations".
He said: "This momentous occasion, where we see India's first C-17 take shape, further strengthens our growing relationship. As India strives to become a global reservoir of highly skilled and technologically sophisticated manpower, we will witness an escalating technology transfer, collaborative joint research and development, and co-production of defense items between our two countries."
The first 10 C-17's are to cost $4.1 billion. The Long Beach Plant is the last aircraft manufacturer in California. The 4000 employees are working on orders until the end of 2014.
Mayor Bob Foster said how important international sales are. "The amount of planes the air force requires, according to them, is now diminishing and is going to reach the end of the U.S. military construction for these aircrafts. So the international sales for India, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and others are crucial. ... This is the last commercial aircraft manufacturing (site) in California and we want to keep it here."
He continues: "And I think in the areas of Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Rim are great opportunities for us, and I think with those we'll be able to extend it for a couple more years."
India is also hoping to eventually acquire six squadrons of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The model is designed for medical evacuation and cargo transport.