To evaluate its own 'Rapid Airlift Capability' and to enhance crew currency in the role, the Western Air Command of the IAF on Tuesday in a single wave airlifted a record 463 tonnes of load from its airbase at Chandigarh to airfields and drop zones in Ladakh, a statement said.
The effort was accomplished with the aid of a fleet of 16 fixed wing transport aircraft comprising of C-17 Globemaster, the Ilyushin-76 Gajraj and the Medium lift Tactical aircraft, Antonov-32.
All aircraft were loaded and took off from Chandigarh airbase early in the morning. The entire wave was accomplished in little less than six hours, the statement said.
"Airlift of approximately 500 tonnes, in the achieved time frame, in a single wave, happens to be a record which enhances the assessment of the Command's capability towards rapid and heavy airlift.
"The command is entrusted with the air maintenance of the entire northern region of the country and under normal operating circumstances airlifts close to 3000 tonnes of load per month," the statement said.
Air Marshall NJS Dhillon, the Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) of the Western Air Command, said the rapid air mobility is a key component of modern warfare and this assumes greater significance in short and intense wars.
"This is very true in India's context, especially when related to air mobility to airfields in the Ladakh region. With a wide spectrum of military transport aircraft in its inventory, the IAF today has a credible airlift capability which has provided succour on numerous occasions when the nation was struck with natural calamities," the statement quoting Mr Dhillion said.
In 2013, in a subtle show of strength to China, the IAF landed its C-130J Super Hercules transport plane at the world's highest Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The achievement enabled the armed forces to use the heavy-lift aircraft to induct troops, supplies, improve communication network and also served as a morale booster for maintenance of troops positioned there, said the statement.
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