India’s military airlift capabilities to ferry battle tanks, howitzers and armed-to-the-teeth troopers to battlefields and conflict zones have got a boost with the delivery of the first of the 10 C-17 Globemaster-III to the Indian Air Force by US aerospace major Boeing.
The delivery took place in the US at Edwards Air Force Base in Palmdale, California. With this, the IAF became the newest operator of the heavy-lift cargo plane after the US, Australian, Canadian, British, Qatari and UAE Air Force, apart from the 12-member strategic airlift initiating of the NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
An IAF crew is now flying the C-17, which is capable of carrying over 70-tonne cargo over 4,200-km distance, to its Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of the national capital. The plane, which can land on a runway just about 3,500 feet in length, will reach Hindon on June 17 ahead of a formal induction into the fleet.
“The C-17 will equip the IAF with amongst the world’s most advanced humanitarian and strategic capabilities,” IAF’s Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Transport and Helicopters) Air Vice Marshal S R K Nair said. “We have looked forward to this day when our IAF flies the first C-17 to its new home in India,” he added.
Boeing is on track to deliver four more C-17s to the IAF this year and the rest five in 2014, thereby, completing the over `22,000-crore contract for 10 planes signed in mid-2011.
The first aircraft was transferred on Tuesday after completion of a flight test programme at Edwards Air Force Base that began in January this year, Boeing said in a statement after delivery of the plane to the IAF.
“Congratulations to the IAF on this milestone as India joins the worldwide community of C-17 operators,” Boeing vice-president of Business Development for Mobility, Surveillance and Engagement Tommy Dunehew said to mark the occasion. “Nations turn to the C-17 for the capability to perform a wide range of operations, from peacekeeping and disaster relief to troop movements from semi-prepared airfields. This aircraft will provide the IAF with the versatility to augment airlift capability,” Dunehew said.
Boeing will support the IAF C-17 fleet through the Globemaster-III Integrated Sustainment Programme (GISP) Performance-based Logistics contract. The GISP “virtual fleet” arrangement ensures mission readiness by providing all C-17 customers access to an extensive support network for worldwide parts availability.