The first of ten Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift transporters, ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF), came together at the airframer’s Long Beach, California facility on July 31.
|An IAF officer drives rivets in to the C-17 fuselage|
Indian embassy officials, senior Indian Air Force officers and local elected officials including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher drove ceremonial rivets into the aircraft as they celebrated the “major join” ceremony, where sections of the fuselage are joined and the aircraft first starts looking like one.
India will be the largest C-17 operators outside the United States. These aircraft are being procured under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route of the US government. The contract worth US$ 4 billion, was signed last June. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to the IAF in May or June 2013 and the tenth before the end of 2014. A special squadron is being created, based at Hindon Air Force Station just outside Delhi. Pilots and loadmasters from the IAF are already undergoing training in the United States.
At the ceremony Ambassador N. Parthasarathi, Consul General of India, San Francisco said
“The defense relationship between India and the United States is an important dimension of our strategic partnership,” “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 Indian Air Force is contemplating an addition six to ten C-17’s and will be facing enormous pressure from US lawmakers who would like to see those additional orders to keep the production facility open, along with its associated employment.