On Sched­ule

In­dia’s first C-17 Globe­mas­ter III

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES - [By SP’S Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, USA]

The fruit of In­dia’s sin­gle largest de­fence con­tract yet with Wash­ing­ton took shape last month at Boe­ing’s big mil­i­tary air­craft fa­cil­ity in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, with tail sec­tion, fuse­lage and for­ward sec­tion of the first C-17 Globe­mas­ter III for the In­dian Air Force (IAF) cer­e­mo­ni­ally riv­eted to­gether in the pres­ence of se­nior diplo­mats, politi­cians and Boe­ing brass.

Am­bas­sador N. Parthasarathi, Con­sul Gen­eral of In­dia, San Fran­cisco, said, “This mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion, where we see In­dia’s first C-17 take shape, fur­ther strength­ens our grow­ing re­la­tion­ship. As In­dia strives to be­come a global reser­voir of highly skilled and tech­no­log­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated man­power, we will wit­ness an es­ca­lat­ing tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, col­lab­o­ra­tive joint re­search and de­vel­op­ment, and co­pro­duc­tion of de­fence items be­tween our two coun­tries.”

Twenty IAF pi­lots and 10 lo­gis­ti­cians/load­mas­ters are cur­rently at the United States Air Force (USAF) base in Al­tus, Ok­la­homa, be­ing trained on C-17 fly­ing and load­ing op­er­a­tions. The first of 10 In­dian C-17s, con­tracted at a cost of just over $4.1 bil­lion (`22,500 crore)—mak­ing it the largest de­fence con­tract be­tween the two coun­tries so far—is on sched­ule for de­liv­ery to In­dia in June 2013. The 10 air­craft are to be based at the Hin­don Air Force sta­tion from which op­er­a­tions are slated to en­ter full tempo by the end of 2014 when de­liv­er­ies are com­pleted.

While it is well known that the C-17 for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) does not con­tain an op­tions clause, for­mer IAF Chief Air Chief Mar­shal P.V. Naik re­vealed last year that the ser­vice was con­sid­er­ing at least six more air­craft. A de­ci­sion on such a fol­low-on or­der, how­ever, will only be taken once de­liv­er­ies be­gin next year. How­ever, there is a catch. The In­dian Gov­ern­ment will need to take a de­ci­sion no later than late next year, since Boe­ing, hav­ing com­pleted de­liv­er­ies to the USAF by that time, and as­sum­ing there are no fresh in­ter­na­tional or­ders, will be­gin to wind down the fa­cil­ity.

Air Com­modore San­jay Nimesh, Air At­taché, In­dian Em­bassy, Wash­ing­ton, at the ‘ma­jor join’ cer­e­mony

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