That confirmation is good news for Boeing Macon where about 275 of the plant’s more than 500 employees assemble a major portion of the aircraft’s fuselage. Boeing Macon officials did not return a call asking for comment on the India sale.
Jerry Drelling, a Boeing spokesman at the company’s final assembly plant in Long Beach, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times that the Indian order would sustain work at the California site through 2014.
India and the U.S. must still execute a final letter of acceptance, but officials believe that will occur by the end of the week.
The formal announcement comes as the U.S. Air Force buy of the Globemaster III is winding down. Only five aircraft remain to be contracted from a programmed buy of 223. Some 210 have been delivered so far and no additional buys are expected in the 2012 defense budget.
Earlier this year, Boeing announced that it would slow C-17 production from 15 to 10 aircraft per year and cut about 1,100 jobs at four U.S. locations, including 90 at Boeing Macon.
In late May, Drelling told The Patriot most of the local impact largely had been accommodated through retirement, attrition and shifting workers to other programs. About 30 percent of Boeing Macon’s employees are focused on Chinook helicopter work and 15 percent on A-10 wing assemblies.
Several foreign air forces fly the C-17 in small numbers including Britain, Australia, Canada and Qatar. The United Arab Emirates has ordered six with four to be delivered this year and two next year.
Drelling also believes India could purchase additional C-17s.
“They may be interested in another five to seven,” he told The Patriot in late May, “although I am not sure when that order will come through.”