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India Buys the Last Unsold Boeing C-17

Photo by: Jet Fabara

When you wanted more but settle for one.

India showed interest in purchasing additional C-17 aircraft to compliment their 10 strong fleet of Globemaster IIIs.  Unfortunately, Boeing stopped producing the aircraft in 2015 so they had to settle for just one additional aircraft. The Indian Prime Minister met with President Trump in D.C. just recently to work toward the purchase, which the State Department has approved, at a cost of $366.2 million (which also includes 4 Turbofan F-117-PW-100 engines, a missile warning system, a countermeasures dispensing system and an identification friend or foe transponder).

So, why did Boeing shut down the line?

The Pentagon purchased the majority of the C-17 production from its first flight until US procurement ended in 2010.  A total of 223 aircraft were delivered to the US Air Force.  Foreign orders for the aircraft had sustained the line over the last few years, but those dwindled as well in recent years forcing Boeing to pull the plug on the program in 2015.  Boeing produced the last few aircraft as ‘white tails’ meaning that they did not have a buyer when built.  They eventually sold the remaining aircraft to foreign operators with India taking the last tail ever produced. A total of 279 aircraft were produced by McDonnell Douglas then Boeing over the lifetime of the program.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a statement on the pending sale, saying, “The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future strategic airlift requirements. India lies in a region prone to natural disasters and will use the additional capability for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. In addition, through this purchase, India will be able to provide more rapid strategic combat airlift capabilities for its armed forces.”

Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a joint press conference in June, with Trump noting “there’s nobody that makes military equipment like we make military equipment.” He also expressed appreciation for India’s interest and alluded to further trade with the country. In addition to the sale of the lone C-17, the US also approved is a sale of 22 General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones to the country, for $22 billion. Other aircraft potentially up for purchase by India include the Boeing P-8 and the Lockheed Martin C-130J.

Editors note:  The article title previously indicated that this was the last built C-17.  That aircraft was already delivered to Qatar.  The aircraft India bought was the last unsold C-17.

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