Last Chance For More IAF C-17s
By SP's Special Correspondent
April 17, 2015: With Australian Air Force ordering two more C-17s, the number of white-tail platforms (fully built but unsold) drops to five, giving the Indian government one final opportunity to augment its 10-strong fleet of the heavy transport jet. Boeing's massive C-17 facility at Long Beach, California is expected to be converted into an engineering centre with the end of aircraft manufacturing operations there. While the Indian government has made no official commitment to purchasing more C-17s, the U.S. government hopes that the recent Yemen rescue operations could spur interest in using this final opportunity to get some of the last airframes available in the world market. Budgetary issues and other procurement priorities may nix any interest, though it is well known that the IAF has been informally keen for a while now to top up its Skylords squadron. Boeing recently said in a statement, "As Australia, India and customers around the world have experienced first-hand, the C-17 remains unmatched in its ability to transport troops and heavy cargo, support airdrops and aeromedical evacuations, and land and takeoff in remote airfields. Recently, the Indian Air Force’s C-17s have been extensively utilized for Human Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) operations by bringing home over almost 2000 Indians evacuated from Yemen and clocking over 150 hours."