IAF inducts its first heavylift C-17 Globemaster IIITribune News Service
New Delhi, June 18
The first of the 10 US-made Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft landed at the Hindon airbase today. The aircraft will enhance the operational potential of the IAF with its payload carriage and performance capability. It would also augment the strategic reach during disaster relief and similar missions. The induction of C-17 (ordered for $4.1 billion) is a major milestone in the modernisation of the IAF. Five C-17 aircraft will be delivered this year, while the remaining five will come in 2014. With the completion of the order, India will become the largest C-17 operator outside the US. Each plane has a carrying capacity of 74 tonne, which is more than double the capacity of the IAF’s existing heavy-lift aircraft-Soviet-origin IL-76. At present, the IAF has 12 IL-76 aircraft, which are largely used to ferry supplies to Jammu and Kashmir from Chandigarh. The medium-lift requirements are met by the fleet of 100-odd AN-32 planes, purchased from the Soviet Union around 30 years ago.
The new acquisition will play a crucial role in any force projection along the 4,057-km-long frontier with China. The plane can land at small forward airbases on semi-prepared runways, termed as advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in the Indian Defence Ministry’s parlance. Such ALGs exist in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The aircraft can ferry a tank along with a couple of hundred troops. With India looking to add some 10 more of the C-17s to its fleet, its airlift capacity will then be to lift an infantry brigade (around 4,500 men) and land them at different place within hours. The aircraft can land on unprepared sand runways with a clearance of 3,000 feet even while carrying its full load of 74 tonne. The aircraft’s real use will be for carrying heavy equipment such as tanks or helicopters. It has an endurance of 4,500 km, hence allowing India to dominate its area of interest from the straits of Malacca in east to the Persian Gulf in west. “This is an affirmation of the outstanding partnership that Boeing has with the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force,” said Pratyush Kumar, president of Boeing India. The C-17’s arrival comes a month after the on-schedule arrival of the first Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy. Boeing will deliver a total of eight P-8I aircraft, which are based on the company’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, to India. Boeing has now delivered 254 C-17s, including 222 to the US Air Force and 32 to countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the UAE and the UK.
The plane has a carrying capacity of 74 tonne, which is more than double the capacity of the IAF’s existing heavy-lift aircraft, the Soviet-origin IL-76
The plane can land at small forward airbases on semi-prepared runways and can ferry a tank along with a couple of hundred troops
After the completion of the order, the IAF will be in a position to airlift an infantry brigade (around 4,500 men) and land them at different place within hours
Five C-17 aircraft will be delivered this year, while the remaining five will come in 2014