IAF in­ducts Boe­ing C-17 Globe­mas­ter III

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Sucheta Das Mo­ha­p­a­tra ]

On the 81st year of the In­dian Air Force (IAF), it has got a new squadron, Sqau­dron No.81, which will be known as ‘Sky­lords’ and will house the 10 C-17 Globe­mas­ter III strate­gic air­lifter fleet of the IAF. In a cer­e­mony held at the Hin­don Air­base, De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony in­ducted the first three of the ten C-17s or­dered from the US de­fence ma­jor Boe­ing. Two more C-17s will be in­ducted this year and the re­main­ing five will be de­liv­ered by Novem­ber 2014.

The US Ambassador to In­dia Nancy Jo Pow­ell, Min­is­ter of State for De­fence Ji­ten­dra Singh; Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Mar­shal N.A.K. Browne, Vice Chief of the Air Staff Air Mar­shal Arup Raha, Air Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing-in-Chief Western Air Com­mand Air Mar­shal S.S. So­man and se­nior of­fi­cials from the United States Air Force (USAF), IAF and Boe­ing, were a part of the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony. Group Cap­tain B.S. Reddy, the Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer of the Squadron 81 which will be based in Hin­don was handed over the golden key.

Antony de­clared the in­duc­tion of C-17 as a ‘defin­ing mo­ment’. “With this, the IAF has taken a gi­ant stride to­wards its goal of ac­quir­ing multi-spec­trum strate­gic ca­pa­bil­i­ties, es­sen­tial to safe­guard In­dia’s grow­ing ar­eas of in­ter­est. To­day’s in­duc­tion of C-17 will fur­ther boost IAF’s ca­pa­bil­ity for hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and disas­ter re­lief.”

“Tra­di­tional chal­lenges to our national se­cu­rity have evolved into com­plex multi-di­men­sional threats. A long-term com­pre­hen­sive ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment ap­proach by and for our armed forces is the need of the hour. The govern­ment re­mains fully com­mit­ted to this re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said the Min­is­ter. He fur­ther added that the in­duc­tion of C-17 adds an­other im­por­tant mile­stone in the Indo-US strate­gic part­ner­ship.

Air Chief Mar­shal N.A.K. Browne stated that the C-17 will be a game changer, an en­abler. “The in­duc­tion of 10 C-17 air­craft prom­ises to be a game changer on how we con­duct air trans­port op­er­a­tions. The C-17 fleet will pro­vide tremen­dous flex­i­bil­ity in terms of op­er­a­tional re­sponse op­tions in any fu­ture cam­paign. The long-range, heavy-lift ca­pa­bil­ity will al­low the com­man­ders to in­duct troops, squadrons, re­lo­cate forces as well as shift forces be­tween theatres rapidly. The C-17 would form an ex­tremely im­por­tant com­po­nent of the strate­gic air­lift ca­pa­bil­ity and reach of the IAF.”

“The Sky­lords join a very unique group of of­fi­cers and me of our trans­port squadrons who bring with them a legacy of hon­our, ded­i­ca­tion and sac­ri­fice with a man­date to up­hold the high­est pro­fes­sional stan­dards of IAF.” The Air Chief later in­formed that the C-17s will be used in bor­der ar­eas as well as in hin­ter­land. Like the C-130J, which re­cently made a his­toric land­ing at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the C-17 can also land at the world’s high­est airstrip. The first C-17 has al­ready flown the In­fantry Bat­tal­ion to Port Blair, An­daman and Ni­co­bar Is­lands. A pic­ture of the C-130J land­ing at DBO was handed over by the Air Chief to the De­fence Min­is­ter.

Antony said that as there was a need for a ca­pa­ble strate­gic air­lift plat­form, the govern­ment had ex­pe­dited the process of procur­ing 10 C-17 Globe­mas­ter III from the US as a part of the for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) pro­gramme. The first and the sec­ond Boe­ing C-17 air­lifters had ar­rived in In­dia in June and July re­spec­tively, and the third Globe­mas­ter had de­parted from the com­pany’s Long Beach fa­cil­ity on Au­gust 20 this year.

In op­er­a­tion since 1991, the C-17 is a large, ver­sa­tile mil­i­tary trans­port air­craft able to carry heavy, over­size loads to long dis­tances and land on rough and un­pre­pared sur­faces. It has been used in hu­man­i­tar­ian and mil­i­tary mis­sions around the world and re­cently sur­passed 2.6 mil­lion flight hours. As of date, Boe­ing has de­liv­ered 256 C-17s,

in­clud­ing 222 to the US Air Force and a to­tal of 34 to Aus­tralia, Canada, In­dia, Qatar, the United Arab Emi­rates, the United King­dom and the 12-mem­ber Strate­gic Air­lift Ca­pa­bil­ity ini­tia­tive of the North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (NATO) and Part­ner­ship for Peace na­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Boe­ing, the C-17’s abil­ity to fly long dis­tances and land in re­mote air­fields in rough, land­locked re­gions make it a pre­mier trans­porter for mil­i­tary, hu­man­i­tar­ian and peace­keep­ing mis­sions. It can take off from a 7,600-ft. air­field, carry a pay­load of 1,60,000 pounds, fly 2,400 nau­ti­cal miles, and re­fuel while in flight and land in 3,000 ft or less on a small un­paved or paved air­field in day or night. The C-17 can drop a sin­gle 60,000-lb pay­load, with se­quen­tial load drops of 1,10,000 lb; and seat 54 on the side­wall and 48 in the cen­tre­line.

Ad­dress­ing the press af­ter the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony, the De­fence Min­is­ter said that there is no pos­si­bil­ity of sab­o­tage in the Sind­hu­rak­shak sub­ma­rine ac­ci­dent. How­ever, he said that noth­ing can be ruled out till the Board of In­quiry sub­mits its re­port. On China’s in­tru­sion into In­dia, the Min­is­ter clar­i­fied that such in­ci­dents would hap­pen as long as the bor­der agree­ment be­tween In­dia and China is not fi­nalised. Soldiers on both sides of the bor­der are of­ten con­fused and move into each other’s ter­ri­tory. “Be­sides diplo­matic en­deav­ours, we are try­ing to have bet­ter un­der­stand­ing be­tween mil­i­taries and some steps have al­ready been taken. We are look­ing at more prac­ti­cal and ef­fec­tive mech­a­nisms, strength­en­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and find­ing ways to build re­la­tion­ship. Our bor­der forces are han­dling those ca­pa­bil­i­ties ef­fec­tively.” The Indo-China joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise is likely to be held in a few months.

To a ques­tion whether In­dia will al­low the US to use the Thiruvananthapuram Air­base, the De­fence Min­is­ter said that we are procur­ing state-of-the-art mod­ern ca­pa­bil­i­ties from the US, but we are not tilt­ing to­wards any coun­try. “We are also buy­ing from other coun­tries like Rus­sia, UK, France, and we will not be a party to any coun­try’s mil­i­tary growth. There is no pro­posal to give the air­base to the US,” he said.

Con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Das­sault Rafale, the medium multi-role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) se­lected for the IAF is on, and there will be many more pro­cesses af­ter the con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion gets over and he said that he will not be able to tell when the MMRCA will be signed as ev­ery­thing de­pends on the com­ple­tion of the pro­ce­dure. Antony avoided com­ment­ing on the Cabi­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity (CCS) to en­gage in talks with Pak­istan and said that it is a de­ci­sion which the Prime Min­is­ter will be tak­ing and he has no au­thor­ity to say any­thing. On be­ing asked about the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­ject the Air Chief’s pro­posed visit to China, the De­fence Min­is­ter said that the Air Chief goes to friendly coun­tries, if he ac­cepts their in­vi­ta­tion.

(Top left) De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony hand­ing over the golden key to the Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer of Squadron 81, B.S. Reddy at the Hin­don Air­base. Also seen are Min­is­ter of State for De­fence Ji­ten­dra Singh, Air Chief Mar­shal N.A.K. Browne, Vice Chief Arup Raha; (top right) The US Ambassador to In­dia Nancy Pow­ell re­ceives a me­mento from Air Chief Mar­shal Browne; (above left) A.K. Antony and Ji­ten­dra Singh in the cock­pit of C-17 Globe­mas­ter III; (above right) Air Chief Mar­shal Browne hand­ing over a pho­to­graph of C-130J-30 land­ing at

DBO to the De­fence Min­is­ter. The Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer Group Cap­tain Te­jbir Singh (ex­treme left) and the crew of the ‘Veiled Vipers’ were present on the oc­ca­sion.

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