LONG BEACH, CA: The first of India’s 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift military aircraft that would add strategic depth to the IAF will arrive in India in June next year.
A high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed aircraft with a rear-loading ramp, the C-17s are expected to help modernize and replace India’s aging fleet of Russian-built cargo planes.
In a riveting ceremony held at the Boeing plant here yesterday, the eagerly awaited aircraft got its shape as the global aerospace giant integrated the forward, center and aft (rear) fuselages and the wing assembly.
Officials from the Indian Consulate in San Francisco and Indian Air Force drove ceremonial rivets into the aircraft, a key milestone in the program during the “major join” ceremony.
India’s Consul General in San Francisco N Parthasarathi called the ceremony as “practically riveting the Indo-US relations”.
“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,” Parthasarthi said.
Last year, India became Boeing’s largest international customer when it approved a USD 4.1 billion deal to purchase 10 C-17s, which are to be delivered in 2013 and 2014. The IAF is expected to base its C-17 fleet at Hindon.
The aircraft is powered by four-engines, has a rear-loading ramp and can take a payload as much as 164,900 pounds and boasts of a take-off from a 7,000-foot airfield and land on a small unprepared airfield of 3,000 feet or less.
The aircraft, used by 18 other countries like Australia, Canada and the UK can fly 2,400 nautical miles and can be refueled mid-air.
It is said to be a workhorse for aeromedical ‘care in air’ sorties and evacuation and can fly long haul missions.
“With this ceremony, we expect the first C-17 to be in India by June next year,” Air Commodore Sanjay Nimesh told PTI on the sidelines of the event held inside the Long Beach manufacturing facility of the Boeing.
Parthasarathi also said that India has ordered purchase of US equipment to the tune of USD nine billion and there was “much more to come”.
“This is a proud day for the highly skilled Boeing workforce and our newest customer (India) to celebrate a major production milestone,” Boeing Airlift vice president and C-17 program manager Bob Ciesla said in a statement.
Speaking at the ceremony, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said the US would not supply weapons and other resources to Pakistan as it results in killing of American people in war-torn Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“Pakistan should know that we are not going to put up any longer with them in supplying the resources and the weapons to kill Americans anywhere in the world especially in Afghanistan.”
Lauding India, Rohrabacher said New Delhi is an “important partner” of the United States in the “re-alignment of power” in the world and today’s event of the ceremonial bringing together of various parts of the Indian defense aircraft here was a “symbolic step” in that direction.-PTI
India had last year ordered 10 C-17 heavy-lift aircraft for its strategic military and humanitarian assistance needs, to be manufactured by the US-based aviation giant.
The C-17, also called the ‘Globemaster’, is one of its class in the heavy-transport league of aircraft for defense forces and today it had its forward, center and aft (rear) fuselages and the wing assembly, brought together from different parts of the 1.1 million sq feet ‘Home of the Globemaster’ manufacturing plant of Boeing here.
The first aircraft is expected to be flown into India by June next year. -PTI
The manufacturing of this aircraft, which will roll out with Indian colors on its T-tail and the cockpit had begun in January this year.
The nine others are expected to fly into the country in specified timelines by the end of 2014.
The Indian plane, heavily plugged with wires and mechanics, stood aloft on its landing gear in its raw paint yellow color, sporting the Indian flag on the cockpit.
The Long Beach Boeing facility in California State is the third largest aircraft manufacturing site of the aviation firm in the United States.
Boeing has delivered 245 C-17s worldwide, including 217 to the US Air Force. -PTI