WASHINGTON — India officially became the latest nation to operate Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III transport plane, following a transfer ceremony held in Long Beach, Calif.
After the ceremony, an Indian Air Force crew took off from the runway, beginning the C-17’s flight back to India.
“The C-17 will equip the Indian Air Force with amongst the world’s most advanced humanitarian and strategic capabilities,” Air Vice Marshal SRK Nair, India’s assistant chief of Air Staff operations (transport and helicopters), said in a Boeing press release. “We have looked forward to this day when our Indian Air Force flies the first C-17 to its new home in India.”
“Congratulations to the Indian Air Force on this milestone as India joins the worldwide community of C-17 operators,” Tommy Dunehew, Boeing vice president of business development for mobility, surveillance and engagement, said.
“Nations turn to the C-17 for the capability to perform a wide range of operations, from peacekeeping and disaster relief to troop movements from semi-prepared airfields. This aircraft will provide the Indian Air Force with the versatility to augment airlift capability.”
Boeing signed a $4.1 billion deal with India in 2011 for 10 of the large transport planes. The company plans to deliver an additional four C-17s this year, with another five coming in 2014. The first batch of Pratt & Whitney F117 engines for the planes was delivered to India in February ahead of the Bangalore Air Show, where a C-17 was a major attraction.
There have been 254 C-17 deliveries made by Boeing, with 222 going to the US Air Force. India plans to use the planes to quickly move material and troops along its borders with China and Pakistan.