India will receive its first Boeing C-17 strategic airlifter later this year, even as production of the type for lead customer the US Air Force will come to a close.
"We have already delivered it for Foreign Military Sales to the US Air Force and now it gets delivered to the Indian air force here in the next couple of months," says Tim Peters, Boeing's vice-president for mobility, surveillance and engagement overview.
India is buying 10 C-17s, with options to purchase six more. Its existing order safeguards production of the type until the third quarter of 2014, Peters says. However, Boeing is hopeful of securing additional international sales in the Middle East and Asia and is funding long-lead components to keep production going.
Boeing will deliver its final two of 223 C-17s to the USAF this year. The company has previously reduced its production rate from 15 to 10 aircraft a year in Long Beach, California.
Peters says it is hard to predict the potential remaining market for the C-17, but that it could encompass between four and five-dozen aircraft. "It really is the only active strategic production airlift capability in the world today," he notes.
A total of 32 C-17s have been delivered to foreign customers to date.