Welcoming India’s decision to buy 10 Boeing C-17 heavy-lift aircraft for its Air Force, U.S.-India business body said it is a testament to New Delhi’s confidence in having the U.S. as its long-term defence partner.

“This is testament to India’s appreciation of U.S. technology and confidence in the US as a long-term defence sales partner. This largest-ever Indian purchase of US defence technology, we hope, will be just the beginning of much more to come,” said Ron Somers, president of US India Business Council (USIBC) after Indian government took decision in this regard.

Marking the biggest defence deal between India and the U.S., India gave green signal to procurement of 10 C-17 heavy-lift military aircraft at a cost of $4.1 billion, weeks after America lost out in the bid for 126 fighter deal.

Once delivered, Indian Air Force will be the owner and operator of the largest C-17 fleet outside the US.

Headquartered in Chicago, Boeing is the manufacturer of the C-17 aircraft. The C-17 is a large transport aircraft used for rapid strategic and tactical airlift of tanks, supplies and troops, as well as perform medical evacuations.

It can land on short and rough runways.

According to Boeing, each plane supports 650 suppliers across 44 states in the US, and the order would support its C-17 production facility in Long Beach in California for an entire year. Boeing is the largest employer in the city.

“Without the order by the Indian government, the last of the plant’s current orders would be delivered in December 2012. The order has a $ 5.8 billion annual economic impact and the jobs of about 25,000 workers in 44 states depend on the C-17 planes,” a Boeing spokesperson said.

The $4.1 billion transaction, all of which is US export content, would support an estimated 22,160 jobs, the USIBC said.

The deal comes with an offset requirement valued at $1.2 billion. This offset is to facilitate India’s domestic capability to expand its own defence manufacturing prowess.

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security has also approved the future purchase of four additional C-17s, the body said.

“U.S. defence sales to India began only a decade ago, at a value of less than $ 200 million for radar equipment. We have come a long way since then. U.S.-India defence sales today have now crossed the $ 9 billion mark and continue to grow,” Somers said.

“U.S. industry wishes to provide India with a host of cutting-edge products and solutions to meet its emerging defence, security, and counterterrorism needs. Overall, we see the U.S. and India, the world’s largest free-market democracies, forging a deep and lasting strategic partnership, shaping the destiny of the 21st Century,” he said.

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