India has officially received its first Boeing C-17 strategic transport, becoming the eighth operator of the type. After taking delivery of the aircraft at Edwards AFB in California, the Indian air force crew departed for India, with the airlifter expected to touch down at Hindon air base near New Delhi on 17 June.
New Delhi will receive four more C-17s this year, and five in 2014, says Boeing. This will make the Indian air force the operator of the second largest fleet of C-17s, after the US Air Force's current 218-strong inventory. The UK currently holds this status, with its Royal Air Force operating eight of the type. Other current users include Australia, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, plus a multinational Strategic Airlift Consortium of 12 NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
India finalised its almost $1.8 billion Foreign Military Sales deal for 10 C-17s in June 2012.
"Congratulations to the Indian air force on this milestone as India joins the worldwide community of C-17 operators," says Tommy Dunehew, Boeing vic- president of business development for Mobility, Surveillance and Engagement.
"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," Dunehew says.
In addition to the 10 C-17s on order, New Delhi has options for another six. It is also likely to buy six additional Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports, in a move which would double its fleet numbers of the type to 12.