The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) first Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift transport aircraft is set to undergo a planned US Air Force (USAF) flight test programme at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US.
Indian Embassy Air Attaché air commodore Sanjay Nimesh said the aircraft had already addressed IAF’s stipulated airlift requirements during field evaluation trials in India in June 2010, and also completed its first-flight milestone this month.
Boeing vice president and C-17 programme manager Nan Bouchard said the company will provide support services for India’s first C-17 as it enters flight testing.
"The C-17’s ability to operate in extremely hot and cold climates; transport large payloads across vast ranges; and land on short, austere runways makes it ideal for India’s airlift needs," Bouchard added.
A total of ten C-17 aircraft were ordered by India from Boeing as part of a $4.1bn contract in June 2011, to help replace the air force’s ageing Russian IL-76 airlifter fleet.
The aircraft are expected to be operated in support of military and humanitarian airlift operations during emergencies from Hindon Air Force Base in New Delhi, India.
Boeing is scheduled to deliver four C-17s this year, followed by the remaining five in 2014, while also supporting the fleet through the Globemaster III integrated sustainment programme (GISP) performance-based logistics (PBL) contract.
The IAF is also expected to place an order for an additional six aircraft.
Powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines, the C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft is also used by air forces in the US, Australia, UAE, Canada and Qatar.
The aircraft has been designed to conduct rapid strategic airlift of troops and supply palleted cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases worldwide.
Image: The Indian Air Force’s first C-17 aircraft during its initial flight. Photo courtesy of Boeing.