New Delhi, March 1
The first flight of an Indian Air Force (IAF) transport plane tasked to evacuate Indians from war-torn Ukraine is scheduled to take off on Wednesday from the Hindon airbase, located some 20 km east of Delhi.
A C-17 Globemaster III is scheduled to take off from here, sources confirmed. More flights would follow as the IAF has drawn up a manifest of planes. The IAF is likely to deploy several C-17 aircraft as part of ‘Operation Ganga’.
Since it is a military plane, it will not fly over Pakistan and will instead take a longer, more circuitous route over the Arabian Sea.
The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked the IAF to come on board.
“In order to scale up the ongoing evacuation efforts under Operation Ganga, PM Modi called for the IAF to join the evacuation efforts. Leveraging the capacities of our Air Force will ensure that more people can be evacuated in a shorter timeframe,” government sources said.
A C-17 can ferry some 400 individuals in one sortie—that is, almost double the capacity of a civilian aircraft. Its 900 km per hour speed matches that of normal civilian jetliners. The four-engined plane has a range of some 5,000 km. That means it can fly non-stop to any European capital. Since the C-17 is a US-made plane, all countries of the NATO have facilities like re-fuelling and standardised parking bays that will aid in a quick turnaround.
“The Indian Air Force is geared up to meet any requirements for the evacuation of our citizens from Ukraine,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe said. IAF officials said the fleet of C-17 and IL-76 transport aircraft is standing by for evacuating citizens from European countries Poland, Romania, or Hungary. The load-carrying capacity of an IL 76—made in Russia—would be half of that of the C-17.
They said the IAF involvement would also help deliver humanitarian aid efficiently.
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