Los Angeles, Aug 24 (IANS) Boeing delivered the 201st C 17 Globemaster-III strategic lift aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) July 20, marking a record in the production of this aircraft.
There was a ceremonial send-off for the aircraft, attended by Senator Barbara Boxter, Boeing Vice President and Program Manager Rick Heerdt and USAF Lt Gen Herbert Carlisle. The aircraft flew to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington state, to join the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wing there, bringing the total number of C 17 aircraft at the base to 54.
Senator Boxter congratulated the Boeing management and workers for building "this magnificent aircraft," and expressed the hope that there would be some international orders in the coming months "to maintain a reliable American industrial base".
According to a report in the India Strategic defence magazine, she indicated that discussions with India for the sale of ten plus six C 17s was still going on. "We must work hard to secure international sales, such as the sale of 16 aircraft to India that we all hope to see finalized soon," she said.
It may be noted that USAF has ordered a total of 223 C 17s, and the remaining 21 are likely to be delivered at a little slower pace in the coming years. To date though, Boeing's Long Beach facility here has delivered 220 C 17s, 201 to the USAF and 19 to various international customers.
A Boeing spokesman told India Strategic that the C 17 has among the best of safety records while Senator Boxter pointed out that as a workhorse of the USAF, the C 17 had been successfully used in critical combat as well as humanitarian missions around the world.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is already negotiating with the USAF to acquire 10 C 17s under the US Government's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. But recently, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik told India Strategic that IAF had opted to buy an additional six C 17s, bringing the total IAF requirement to 16.
The UAE has also ordered six C 17s and their delivery is due next year. The C 17 can land and take off from very small airfields or even grassy patches the size of a football ground, turn in a tight radius, and make quick landings and getaways.