The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center delivered the last available C-17 to the Indian Air Force Aug. 22. (Courtesy photo)

Air Force delivers last available C-17 Globemaster III to India

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center delivered the last available C-17 Globemaster III to the Indian Air Force on Aug. 22, bringing the key ally’s existing C-17 fleet to 11 aircraft.

“Delivering the aircraft is a big deal,” said Richard Ulmen, AFLCMC Security Assistance Program manager for the India C-17 program. “It’s an increase in strategic air lift for the Indian Air Force; it strengthens the partnership between our two nations and increases the interoperability of our militaries so we can assist each other on humanitarian and defense issues.”

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While it was not the last C-17 to be made, the aircraft was originally built by Boeing as a ‘White Tail’ – built without specific customer – and was the very last to be sold.

“Working with Boeing and other stakeholders, we brought the aircraft out of storage, configured it for Indian requirements and delivered it,” said Col. Scott Ekstrom, AFLCMC C-17 System Program manager. “It’s a game changer, with significant range, air refueling and strategic air lift capabilities.”

“It’s a phenomenal aircraft capable of short-field operations,” Ulmen added. “It can carry a staggering amount of cargo; it’s easy to operate, highly sustainable and a highly available aircraft.”

The C-17, which is operated by nine countries, is widely considered to be the most flexible cargo aircraft.

It is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and cargo to main operating bases and directly to forward bases in deployment areas. It can also perform tactical airlift, airdrop missions and transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations.

The design of the aircraft (high-lift wing, slats and externally blown flaps) allows it to operate through small, austere airfields. It can take off and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet and only 90 feet wide.

While the AFLCMC team was responsible for delivering the last C-17, their work doesn’t stop there. The team will continue to support the U.S. Air Force and partner nations C-17 fleets for years to come, in sustainment and acquisition, ensuring they stay in flight and operational.