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PHOTOS: IAF's C-17 makes maiden trip to Andaman

Last updated on: July 01, 2013 20:30 IST

IAF's Globemaster-III makes maiden trip to Andaman

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For the first time, the Indian Air Force has used its latest C-17 Globemaster III strategic heavylift aircraft to fly non-stop from Hindan near here to drop equipment for an Army battalion being inducted in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"Having touched down on Indian soil on June 18, IAF's latest acquisition C-17 made its maiden flight to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands yesterday," an IAF release said.

Climbing an altitude of 28,000 feet with an unrefueled range of 2,400 nautical miles, the aircraft landed at Port Blair, carrying support equipment, for rotational movement of Army infantry battalion there, it said.

The first of the 10 Boeing C 17 Globemaster IIIs, ordered from the United States, had touched down in India, at Hindan airbase on June 18.

The Globemaster is capable of carrying a maximum payload of 77.5 tons, including combat vehicles, artillery guns and battle-ready troops and is expected to significantly strengthen India's strategic capabilities. 

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IAF's Globemaster-III makes maiden trip to Andaman

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The four-engine aircraft is capable of take-off and landing on makeshift runways, barely 3,500-feet long and 90-feet wide.  

India is the largest customer of this sophisticated aircraft after the United States.

According to reports, the Globemasters are crucial for India to counter China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control, which includes an extensive rail and road network as well as five fully-operational new airbases in Tibet.

The C-17s are replacing the obsolescent Russian IL-76 airlifters, which have served the IAF since the early 1980s but are now unreliable.

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The IAF was impressed with the C-17's abilities, especially after the performance it demonstrated during the June 2010 trials in Ladakh.

In the oxygen-thin air, the IL-76 was unable to land even without a payload. The C-17, however, landed and took off with 30 tons on board.

Former Air chief P V Naik was quoted by the Guardian newspaper as saying: "The C-17 definitely adds a punch to the IAF's air power, as it takes 1/3rd space to land and take off, compared to the Russian IL-76. It can lift more troops, thereby reducing cost. One sortie by C-17 is equivalent to three sorties by IL-76. It may not be about any particular country, but C-17 is definitely suitable for the terrain in the northeast."

The C-17 can also carry 134 fully equipped paratroopers over a distance of 10,000 kilometres, allowing the IAF to launch paratroopers anywhere in Asia, most of Europe and Africa, and even parts of Australia.

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