First Boeing C-17s to arrive in India by mid-2013
Long Beach (California), Aug 1 (IANS) Boeing Wednesday said the first of the 10 heavy-lift military aircraft, C-17 Globemaster III, for the Indian Air Force (IAF) will arrive in the county by June 2013.
The C-17 is a strategic acquisition for the IAF which currently operates Russian built IL-76s and a medium to light lift aircraft AN-32s.
Officials at the aerospace giant told IANS here that the final assembly of the first of the 10 aircraft would be completed by December 2012 and the first trial flight will take place by January 2013.
"The first aircraft is on its way for final assembly. We expect it to be ready by the end of this year. The first flight test after the induction of indigenous components manufactured by Indian companies will be conducted in January 2013," said Robert P. Ciesla, vice president, airlift and C-17 programme manager, mobility, for Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
Ciesla spoke to IANS on the sidelines "major join" ceremony for the first Indian C-17 aircraft that was conducted at the Long Beach facility of the aerospace major here.
The "major join" ceremony entails riveting of the aircraft's fuselage with other parts like wings and the cargo hull.
The ceremony was attended by senior officials of the Indian embassy, the Indian Air Force and US politicians who drove the ceremonial rivets into the C-17.
In June 2011, the Indian defence ministry signed an agreement with the US government to acquire 10 C-17 airlifters under the foreign military sales (FMS) provisions.
Other officials with Boeing Defense, Space and Security said the total of 10 aircraft will be delivered to India by the end of 2014.
"We expect to deliver all 10 aircraft to the Indian Air Force by the end of 2014. The second aircraft is also expected to hit the assembly line soon and will be shortly delivered after the first (C-17) aircraft lands in India," said Patrick M.Druez, business development mobility, Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
The Indian contingent at the ceremony also confirmed that the first aircraft will land in India by mid-2013 and that training was being imparted to the pilots and crew of the new aircraft.
Currently, 20 pilots and 10 load masters are undergoing training at the 97th Air Mobility Wing based out of Altus, Oklahoma.
Air Commodore Sanjay Nimesh of the IAF said the aircraft has strategic capabilities and that induction process is being closely followed by the air force.
"We expect the first and second aircraft of the C-17 to join the air force next year. All the processes for the induction of the aircraft are progressing," Nimesh said.
The aircraft is said to have strategic capabilities like the ability to land at unprepared sand runways with a minimum required clearance of 3,000 feet. It can achieve the mark even while carrying 74,797 kg.
The aircraft is manufactured to carry heavy equipment like tanks, choppers or paratroopers.
The aircraft is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW2040 series turbofan engines that allows the C-17 to cover 2,420 nautical miles even while carrying heavy loads of around 74,000 kg.
Nearly 245 C-17s have been ordered worldwide, including 217 by the US Air Force, guard and reserve units. Most of these aircraft are on active duty or in reserve.
Another batch of 28 C-17s has been delivered to Australia, Canada, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the 12-member strategic airlift capability initiative of NATO. However, India, by placing the order, has become the largest C-17 foreign operator.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)
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