Boeing delivered the Middle East’s first C-17 Globemaster III airlifter to the Qatar Emiri Air Force during a ceremony at the company’s facility in Long Beach Monday.

“With this C-17, and the one that will be delivered later this year, the Qatar Emiri Air Force now has unequaled tactical and strategic airlift capabilities — including high reliability and operational flexibility — that enhance our ability to transport troops and equipment and to support humanitarian operations throughout the Middle East and South Asia,” said Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Malki, head of Qatar’s airlift selection committee, according to a news release.

Qatar signed an agreement on July 21, 2008 to buy the two planes and associated equipment and services. There are currently 205 C-17s in service worldwide, including 16 with international armed forces of countries such as Qatar, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The United Arab Emirates announced Feb. 24 that it also would acquire four C-17s.

In the Middle east, “the aircraft will be used effectively and efficiently to help keep the peace and to provide aid on a moment’s notice,” said Jean Chamberlin, Boeing vice president and general manager of Global Mobility Systems, according to the news release.

Tommy Dunehew, Boeing Global Mobility Systems vice president of Business Development, said the C-17 “brings unparalleled capabilities for military, humanitarian and disaster-relief missions.”

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