Long Beach (California) : The first of ten C-17 Globemaster III heavy airlifters being built by Boeing for India underwent a major production step with a ceremony at the Boeing facility in Long Beach, California. India is the largest C-17 customer outside the US.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct the first of the 10 C-17 Globemaster-III planes purchased from the US in a $4.1 billion deal in June 2013.
Consul General of India in San Francisco N. Parthasarathi drove a rivet into the aircraft to mark the integration of the forward, centre and aft fuselages and wing assembly, a key programme milestone known as the "major join." The ceremony was attended by Boeing, Indian embassy, senior Indian Air Force and local elected officials.
"The defence relationship between India and the United States is an important dimension of our strategic partnership," said Parthasarathi. "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 co-production of defence items between our two countries."
"This is a proud day for the highly skilled Boeing workforce and our newest customer to celebrate a major production milestone," said Bob Ciesla, Boeing Airlift vice president and C-17 programme manager.
"We are preparing for India's first C-17 to enter flight test on schedule early next year, and we look forward to providing for India's current and future needs and continuing to support C-17s long after they are delivered."
Boeing has delivered 245 C-17s worldwide, including 217 to the US Air Force active duty, Guard and Reserve units.