NEW DELHI: Demonstrating its rapid airlift capability, the Indian Air Force on Tuesday airlifted heavy loads in one go and successfully offloaded them at high-altitude airfields and drop zones in Ladakh in record time.
In an effort to evaluate its rapid airlift capability and enhance crew currency in the role, Western Air Command (WAC) of the IAF airlifted a record 463 tonnes of loads from its airbase at Chandigarh to airfields and drop zones in the Ladakh region, in a single wave.
The exercise involved 16 fixed-wing transport aircraft comprising C-17 Globemaster, the Ilyushin-76 Gajraj and the medium lift tactical aircraft, Antonov-32. All aircraft were loaded and took off from Chandigarh airbase early in the morning. The entire wave (all aircraft taking flight in one go) was accomplished in little less than six hours.
An official press release issued by the Air Force said, “Airlift of approximately 500 tonnes, in the achieved time frame, in a single wave, happens to be a record which enhances the assessment of the Commands’ capability towards rapid and heavy airlift.” WAC is entrusted with the air maintenance of the entire northern region of the country, sharing borders with China and Pakistan, and under normal operating circumstances airlifts close to 3,000 tonnes of loads per month.
Such heavy lift capability can tilt the scale of a battle as it can augment troop numbers with tanks, personnel carriers and artillery guns. Talking about the significance of the move, Air Marshal NJS Dhillon, the Senior Air Staff Officer of the WAC, said, “Rapid air mobility is a key component of modern warfare. This assumes greater significance in short and intense wars.
This is very true in India’s context, especially when related to air mobility to airfields in the Ladakh region. With a wide spectrum of military transport aircraft in its inventory the IAF today has a credible airlift capability.”
Ferrying heavy loads quickly
- The cargo was carried by 16 aircraft—C-17 Globemaster, the Ilyushin-76 Gajraj and the medium lift tactical aircraft, Antonov-32.
- 563 tonnes of cargo was packed and offload in little less than six hours.
- Western Air Command airlifts close to 3,000 tonnes of loads per month under normal circumstances.