Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Indian Air Force to purchase 6 additional C-17A's

The Indian Air Force has announced plans to purchase six more Boeing C-17s, bringing to 16 the total number being sought by the nation.

The deal was welcome news in Long Beach, where nearly 4,000 are employed building, engineering, marketing and selling the massive cargo jet.

Boeing builds about one jet per month at the site, so the additional purchases could keep production humming well past the scheduled 2013 closure date.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, R-Long Beach, said the deal "will go a long way to keep jobs here and keep the Boeing line open.

Rohrabacher recently met with India's National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon, to discuss the C-17 during a trip to the region.

"To say this is an opening for new opportunities for cooperation between the U.S. and India is an understatement," Rohrabacher said in a statement. "India faces the same security challenges from radical Islam and China as we do. They need the C-17 and so does the United States."

Because it involves U.S. military hardware, the deal requires approval by the federal government, which could come by year's end.

The Pentagon is already analyzing the earlier request for 10 planes.

Saudi Arabia, Oman and several other nations are also considering C-17 purchases, giving an international boost to a program being targeted by the Pentagon for cuts.

President Barack Obama, backed by Defense Sec. Robert Gates, has vowed to veto any
defense bill that includes spending for the C-17.

Last year, Congress defied the order and included 10 C-17 purchases in the defense bill at a cost of $2.5 billion, but lawmakers have so far declined to include funds for the jet in this year's budget.

The U.S. Air Force operates 200 C-17 s across the globe, primarily to deliver troops, supplies, vehicles and other equipment in war zones across the globe.

The $250-million jet has also been used extensively to deliver thousands of tons of aid in the wake of natural disasters, including the January earthquake in Haiti, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

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