Earlier this week, U.S. aerospace firm Boeing announced that it had delivered an 11th C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force. The aircraft was delivered on August 22, according to the U.S. Air Force.
Richard Ulmen, a security assistance program manager for the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, said in a statement that “Delivering the aircraft is a big deal.” The first C-17 was delivered to the IAF in January 2013.
“It’s an increase in strategic air lift for the Indian Air Force, it strengthens the partnership between our two nations and increases the interoperability of our militaries so we can assist each other on humanitarian and defense issues,” he added.
“The C-17 fleet has been a vital part of the Indian Air Force’s strategic and combat airlift capability,” Boeing said in a statement.
“The IAF C-17s have performed a wide range of operations in military missions, and provided peacekeeping support, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in India and internationally, since induction to the Sky Lords squadron in 2013.”
The C-17 Globemaster was introduced in 1995 in the United States, with more than 270 units produced to date. With a wingspan of 51 meters and a length of 53 meters, the aircraft has a heavy airlift capacity of more than 77,000 kg of cargo.
Nine countries operate the C-17 Globemaster. With the exception of U.S. allies Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates also operate the aircraft. Three C-17s serve with NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing.
The Indian Air Force’s C-17 fleet is based out of the IAF Western Air Command’s Air Force Station Hindan, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The transport aircraft belong to the No. 81 Squadron of the IAF, which was stood up fly the American transport aircraft.
IAF personnel underwent training to operate the C-17 at Boeing’s simulation training center.
In September 2013, Boeing shut down the production lines for the C-17, citing insufficient demand. Indian reports had suggested that New Delhi would have liked to purchase additional C-17s, but a slow procurement process capped India’s acquisition plans once Boeing had decided to shut down the production lines.
In recent years, the United States has emerged as a major supplier of arms and defense equipment to India. In 2016, India was deemed a “major defense partner” of the United States.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit the United States in September for the United Nations General Assembly’s general debate.