|PHOTO © MICHAEL CARTER / AERO PACIFIC FLIGHTLINES|
The Indian Air Force's first Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (Tail no. CB-8001) departs Long Beach tonight India time (Tuesday morning local time in California) on its journey to the Hindon Air Force Station outside Delhi, where the squadron will be based.
Boeing and Indian Air Force officials will conduct a short ceremony at Long Beach before the aircraft departs.
After a ferry flight that will make a list of stops along the way, the C-17 will touch down at Hindon on June 17. The first airframe will get a welcome ceremony when it arrives, but a formal induction ceremony is expected to happen in August, by which time two more C-17s will have arrived.
The first Indian C-17 arrives in India almost exactly two years after the deal was signed in June 2011. The $4.116-billion deal for 10 aircraft doesn't have a formal options clause, but the IAF is likely to formalise a follow-on order by the end of this year (even with the original order for 10, India will be the largest operator of the aircraft outside the U.S.). Boeing delivered the first Indian C-17 to flight test at Edward's in January this year, and will deliver four more this year, and five next. Indian pilots and loadmasters were trained at Altus, Oklahoma.
I was at Long Beach (Boeing's 'Home of the C-17') last August when the first C-17 came together at its major join ceremony. Also had a nice 30-minute demo flight in a PACAF C-17 this February at Aero India.