Boeing to supply $4.1 billion in C-17 transport aircraft to India

Boeing to supply $4.1 billion in C-17 transport aircraft to India

By 2014, India’s ministry of defense will be the largest owner and operator of the Boeing C-17 transport aircraft outside the United States.  A formal $4.1 billion order for ten of the aircraft is expected to keep the production lines in Long  Beach (just six miles from where I am sitting)  humming for another two years. India is likely to opt for an additional six C-17s after the contract for 10 is signed as the Indian Air Force is keen on increasing its heavy-lift capability according to a report in Aviation Week. The transaction will be listed as a “foreign military sale (FMS) with the US government buying the planes and selling them to the Indian government (as distinct from a “DCS” or direct commercial sale where Boeing would sell directly to India).

Boeing Long Beach factory
Boeing Long Beach factory

The C-17’s ability to fly long distances and land in remote airfields in rough, land-locked regions make it a premier transporter for India. According to Boeing, the plane  can take off from a 7,600-ft. airfield, carry a payload of 160,000 pounds, fly 2,400 nautical miles, refuel while in flight and land in 3,000 ft. or less on a small unpaved airfield in day or night.

Boeing C17 Transport Aircraft
C-17 Transport Aircraft

According to the Los Angeles Times, the company received formal approval Monday from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet committee on security. The deal would be India’s largest defense contract with a U.S. company. The second largest US defense deal with India was also won by Boeing (for the P8i Orion aircraft).

What this means:

First of all it is a major win for Boeing in India, which is by the far the largest American supplier to India having won in both military and commercial billion dollar bids. Second it is a  re-affirmation of India’s interest in aligning more closely with the United States; the vast majority of its defense hardware is still of Soviet/Russian origin. Third, the deal creates or sustains over 20,000 American jobs according the US India Business council.


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