The first C-17 Globemaster III of the Indian Air Force (IAF) landed at Hindon, close to New Delhi, on Tuesday. This is the first of ten aircraft the air force is acquiring over the next couple of years, in an order worth USD 4.1 billion.
This delivery comes almost exactly two years after India signed the order for the aircraft.
The aircraft took off from the company’s manufacturing plant at Long Beach, California on June 11 and made several stops, including one at Barcelona, before it arrived in India. The next four aircraft will be delivered by Boeing in 2013, itself, with the second coming next month in July, third in August, fourth in October and fifth in November. The remaining five aircraft will be delivered before the end of 2014.
The IAF said in a statement that the aircraft was received by the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal S. Sukumar at Hindon, where it will be based. The training of aircrew and ground crew was conducted by the United States Air Force (USAF).
Boeing, in its statement, congratulated the IAF following the arrival of the aircraft, while pointing out that India will become the largest operator of the aircraft outside the U.S. The statement quoted Boeing India president, Pratyush Kumar as saying, “This is an affirmation of the outstanding partnership that Boeing has with the Ministry of Defense and Indian Air Force.”
Dennis Swanson, regional director of international business development for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, was also quoted by the statement as saying,“The C-17 will enhance the IAF’s ability to transport large payloads across vast ranges, land on short, austere runways, and operate in extremely hot and cold climates.”
The Government of India (GOI) requests a possible sale of 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, 45 F117-PW-100 engines (40 installed and 5 spare engines), 10 AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems, 10 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, spare and repairs parts, repair and return, warranty, pyrotechnics, flares, other explosives, aircraft ferry and refueling support, crew armor, mission planning system software, communication equipment and support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
The company statement also pointed out its delivery performance with the arrival of the C-17 coming ‘a month after the on-schedule arrival of the first Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy’. Boeing is to deliver a total of eight P-8I aircraft to the navy.
Boeing has delivered 254 C-17 aircraft to date, with 222 to the USAF. Other operators include Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations who, between themselves, fly 32 of these aircraft.
The IAF is part of the Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP), through which Boeing will support the IAF C-17 fleet by providing access to an ‘extensive worldwide parts and maintenance network, which keeps costs down’, according to the company.
The Indian Air Force currently operates Russian IL-76 aircraft for its strategic, heavy lift missions. The C-17 will be able to help the air force perform these missions more efficiently and effectively.
A big part of the reason is simply the dimensions, the size and shape of the Globemaster III. While it can carry a slightly heavier payload than the Ilyushin but, more importantly, it also has a much wider cross section.
So if the Ilyushin could fit a single truck, a C-17 can take them two at a time, side by side, making a total of four trucks, simultaneously.
A C-17 can also carry a CH-47 Chinook, which was shortlisted by the air force for its heavy lift helicopter requirement, two Apache AH-64Ds, shortlisted by the air force for its attack helicopter requirement, or three Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters in addition to 38 personnel.
In terms of range, the C-17 can leave an IL-76 far behind, while carrying the same payload.
The C-17 can take-off from an airfield 7,000 feet long (a little more than two kilometers) with a payload of almost 165,000 pounds (a little more than 73 tons), fly 2,400 nautical miles (almost 4,500 kilometers) and land on an airfield as long as 3,000 feet (less than a kilometer) or less. Conversely, it can carry 100,300 pounds (almost 45 tons) a distance of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 kilometers). With around 245,000 pounds (109 tons) of fuel, it can fly for around 12 hours. The ramp alone can carry around 18 tons.
The aircraft can carry 102 paratroopers or 188 seated passengers, and also has an aeromedical configuration that can carry 102 ambulatory patients with nine onboard litters, with 27 additional litters that can be installed when required.