The first Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, which came together in a 'major join' ceremony today at Longbeach, California, will make its first flight in December this year. Was a fun event -- Indian Embassy, senior Indian Air Force and local politicians noisily drove ceremonial rivets into the aircraft to consecrate the 'major join' milestone.
Ambassador N. Parthasarathi, Consul General of India, San Francisco 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 guy I enjoyed listening to more was Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who subjected Pakistan to a tonguelashing, saying the Indian C-17 deal represented a step towards a joint fight against 'radical Islam' and Pakistan's support of it (I've got his brief speech on video, and will upload it shortly). It stirred things up a bit in what was otherwise a light, formal affair :), also attended by India's Air Attache Air Commodore Sanjay Nimesh.
The first of the ten Indian C-17s will be delivered to India in May-June 2013. All ten aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2014 and will be based out of Hindan Air Force Station on Delhi's outskirts. The C-17 contract, worth $4.116-billion, does not have a formal options clause, though the IAF is contemplating contracting for 6-10 more aircraft once deliveries begin next year. For Boeing's only big military airplane facility, it's a precarious situation. The C-17 line will proceed to shut down by the end of 2014, which gives the IAF a fairly brief window to decide on follow-on orders. The IAF C-17 factors only a few small changes to the one being supplied to the USAF -- these, presumably, are communications and CISMOA-protected equipment.
A batch of 20 IAF pilots and 10 loadmasters are currently undergoing contractual training at Altus, Oklahoma with the USAF.
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