The C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift transport aircraft from aerospace giant Boeing, is expected to be a show-stopper at this year’s Aero India. Thanks to all the deals of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which has reduced the number of foreign combat fighters at the show, the C-17 will be one mammoth beast to watch out for. The IAF will receive the first batch of five C-17 Globemaster III planes this year, followed by another five in 2014 - as per a $4.1-billion deal, now in play.
India will emerge as C-17’s largest international customer, when the last of the transport planes join the IAF fleet.
Boeing says that the C-17s will bring unmatched strategic airlift capability to India. “India’s strategic and tactical airlift capabilities for military and humanitarian airlift will be considerably strengthened with the induction of the C-17 into IAF fleet,” said Dennis Swanson, vice-president of International Business Development, Boeing Defence, Space and Security, India.
The C-17 is equipped with an externally blown flap system that allows a steep low-speed final approach for routine short-field landings. It can take off and land on a 3,000-foot runway, including narrower ones. (Across the globe, the standard runway length is 9,000 feet. Bangalore airport runway is 10,200 feet.) It can also manoeuvre using a three-point star turn and its backing capability.
This ability to back up allows it to operate on narrow taxiways and congested ramps. With its full payload and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 feet, the C-17 has an un-refueled range of approximately 4400 km. The C-17 is also designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and equipment. It also offers rapid response capability for relief missions anywhere in the world.
“One of the C-17’s most impressive capabilities is that it can land where other large air-lifters are unable to operate, including an unpaved airfield with no infrastructure. Once on the ground, the C-17 is extremely agile and requires minimal support. Unlike other large aircraft, it can turn around and park without assistance and does not have to kneel down for offloading. This saves time when offloading the aircraft and returning it to service,” Dennis said.
The C-17 requires a crew of pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster. It can carry a full array of wheeled vehicles in two side-by-side rows in its cargo compartment.