Friday, April 24, 2015

The C 17 Globemaster

The C 17 Globemaster

LCA Tejas loaded into C 17

   Primarily designated as a heavy lifter but performing various other operations this aircraft has time and again proved its might operating under various Air forces. The aircraft in talk is the Boeing C-17 Globe Master originally developed for the United States Air force by the McDonnell Douglas. The development of the C-17 started in 1980 with USAF planning to replace the aging Starlifter fleet. The first aircraft was delivered to to USAF on 14th July 1993. 

     The first C-17 operational squadron cherished the 17th Airlift Squadron  became operational on 17th January 1995. USAF alone operates 223 C-17 and has termed the C-17 project as one of the best success stories in the history of Military inventions. McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing, which later got the C 17 cleared for Export. C 17 is also operated by United Kingdom, EU counties like and also by Middle Eastern countries.

     The Indian government selected the C-17 for fulfilling its very heavy lift transport aircraft requirement. In 2010 India raised a requested for procuring 10 C-17s under the Foreign Military Sales program by US, the US soon responded positively to this request and granted its consent for selling 10 aircraft's.  In February 2011, the Indian government signed a deal with Boeing for arming the Indian Air Force with 10 C-17 under a $4.1 billion deal. A clause for procuring six additional aircraft's was also included in the deal.

     Apart from the US Air force, the Indian Air force is the largest operator of the C 17 fleet. The Air force is yet to enforce the clause for procuring 6 additional C-17. C-17 have proved their might by serving the force in the frontline when the need has raised and have also been part of all major humanitarian missions the Indian government has involved itself in. 

     The active production of these heavy lifters have come to a grinding halt with Boeing deciding to close down its Long Beach facility which was responsible for producing these aircrafts. With only 15 airframes of C-17 remaining in the world open for export clauses it is high time the IAF enforces its clause for procuring additional number of C-17. 

    The might of these C-17 was proved again in the recently concluded ‘Operation Rahat’ where these heavy lifters flew several sorties to Djibouti evacuating nearly 3000 evacuees from the war torn Yemen.  The C-17 can be used to airlift troops and supplies at one go and at a very short notice can be converted for a strategic air drop mission. But India showcased was a rare feature of the C-17, IAF installed comfortable seats in a 5+2 configuration and thus used the aircrafts at its best for the humanitarian mission.

      The Australian and the Arabs are lobbying strongly for procuring two each of this heavy lifter and the Canadian government is known to be actively pitching for a single piece of this heavy lifter. If the lobbying is accepted by Boeing and the sale is granted only 10 airframes will be left across the globe. With C17 being an integrated part of the IAF missions its time the Indian government exercises the clause under the tender and opts for another 6 C-17. This move will arm the IAF with aircraft that can serve the nation in a two string front. 

IAF C 17 during Op Rahat, 5+2 Seat config

Editor Karthik Kakoor

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