India's third C-17 Globemaster III aircraft departing Boeing's Long Beach facility in US. Photo Boeing.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft formally joins the Indian Air Force today. In the presence of A.K Antony - the Indian Defence Minister - the 70 tonne airlifter will be pressed into service at Hindon Air Force Station, Delhi.
Equipped with this brand new type, the Indian Air Force will be better-placed to airlift troops and support equipment into battle.
Able to accommodate up to 150 service personnel, the C-17 Globemaster III is the Indian Air Force's largest aircraft, taking over from the Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 in this regard.
Ultimately, the air arm is getting a fleet of 10 Globemasters. In comparison, the Royal Air Force currently operates eight Globemasters and only the USAF, with 220 examples, has more in service. To date, three have been delivered to India, with the remaining seven to be supplied between now and the end of 2014. Still to be exercised is an option to acquire six more Globemasters, meaning India could one day have 16 such aircraft.
Indian Air Force Globemasters
The Indian Air Force Globemaster fleet will operate from India's advanced landing sites (in the northeast) and its more mountainous regions (in the north). Recent years have seen India orientate its arms purchases away from Russia and towards the US and other Western nations. With many older Soviet-era technologies now reaching the end of their service lives, the Indian Air Force is rearming itself with a host of new military technologies. Besides the C-17s, it has also recently obtained six Lockheed C-130J Hercules military transport aircraft and has its sights on six more.
The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III first flew in 1991 and entered service two years later. Capable of carrying payloads up to 77,500 pounds in weight, it can use 3,500 foot-long runways. Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofans - each generating 40,700 pounds of thrust - give it a maximum speed of 515 miles an hour, while it's also got a maximum operational ceiling of 45,000 feet and a 4,741 mile range.
Hindon Air Force Station is Asia's largest air base. Currently based there are Mil Mi-17 transport helicopters, MiG-29 air superiority fighters and a number of the Indian Air Force's C-130Js.