For any Air Force, its fighter aircrafts are one of the most important weapon, but only having a good fighter fleet is not sufficient. Transport aircrafts are the backbone of any military. It is used for providing ammunition, carrying cargo, tanks, ration, para dropping, etc. During any war, it is the one, which provides all necessary equipment to frontline troops. Also, during peace, it is extensively used for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and rescue missions. During the recent oxygen crisis in India, the IAF Transport aircrafts are also used for carrying oxygen supplies from other foreign countries to India.
Today in this article we will discuss about the IAF transport fleet……….. Let’s start……….
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
- Origin – US
- Manufacturer- Boeing
- In service of IAF – From 2013
- No. of aircraft – 11
C-17 is a high-wing, 4-engine, military transport aircraft. It is capable of carrying large equipment like armored vehicles, supplies, and troops to a small airfield in harsh terrain anywhere in the world either in day or night.
- Crew – 3 (2 pilots and 1 loadmaster)
- Capacity – 102 paratroopers
- Payload – 70,000 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight – 265,000 kg
- Maximum speed – 1080 km/h
- Range – 4500 km with full payload
Its ability to fly long distances and land in remote airfields in rough, landlocked regions makes it the best transporter for military, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. It can also:-
- Takeoff from 7,700 ft (2300 m) high airfield
- Refuel while in flight
- Land in 914 m or less on a small unpaved or paved airfield in day or night.
- Drop a single 60,000-pound (27,216-kilograms) payload, with sequential load drops of 110,000 pounds (49,895 kilograms).
C-130 J Super Hercules
- Origin – US
- Manufacturer – Lockheed Martin
- In service of IAF – From 2011
- No. of aircrafts – 12
It is a 4-engine, turboprop military transport aircraft. It is the best aircraft available for tactical airlift and is more maneuverable as compared to C-17. Thus, it is a premier aircraft be used during the war for frontline paradrop near border areas.
- Crew – 3 (2 pilots and 1 loadmaster)
- Capacity – 92 paratroopers
- Payload – 20,000 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight – 70,307 kg
- Maximum speed – 670 km/h
- Range – 4400 km with full payload
It is also the most suitable aircraft to be used in special operations because of its short takeoff and landing capabilities. It is also capable of takeoff and land from an unprepared runway. Its low flying capabilities makes it favourable for para dropping, as it can easily escape from enemies’ radar. And also it is used for dropping relief materials during disaster.
In 2013, IAF performed the highest landing of a C-130 aircraft at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) airstrip, in Ladakh situated at the height of 5,000 m.
- Origin – USSR
- Manufacturer – Ilyushin
- In service of IAF – From 1985
- No. of aircrafts – 17
It is a medium range, 4-engine turbofan, military transport aircraft. It is capable for para drop and the carriage of troops, and combat materials with crew and armaments including medium sized battle tanks, cargo airlifting for troops and also transport for disaster relief operations. It can also be operated from unpaved runways in forward areas of operation.
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- Crew – 6 or 7
- Capacity – 225 paratroopers
- Payload – 46,000 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight – 170,000 kg
- Maximum speed – 900 km/h
- Range – 3,000 km with full payload
The upgraded version of IL-76 named IL-76 MD is primarily used by IAF. However, due to the lack of availability of spare parts, the up-gradation process is very slow and its operational capabilities are also low as compared to C-17 and C-130.
- Origin – USSR (now Ukraine)
- Manufacturer – Antanov
- In service of IAF – From 1984
- No. of aircrafts – 104
The Antonov AN-32 is a turboprop twin-engine, military transport aircraft. The AN-32 is capable to operate from mountainous region and hot climatic conditions (upto 50 degree Celsius), either in day or night. It can also takeoff and land on rough airfields and dirt runways. It is also a good aircraft for aerial patrolling and is used extensively in disaster rescue operations.
- Crew – 3 (2 pilots and 1 navigator)
- Capacity – 42 paratroopers
- Payload – 6,700 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight – 27,000 kg
- Maximum speed – 530 km/h
- Range – 2,500 km with 3,700 kg payload
In the 1980s 125 AN-32 was ordered for IAF, from USSR with the first batch being delivered in 1984. Earlier, the aircraft had served the all-purpose of IAF, but with time due to lack of availability of spare parts its accident became more common. The IAF had started to upgrade its AN-32 fleet in 2011, but still, only 40% of the fleet has been upgraded.
Dornier Do 228
- Origin – Germany
- Manufacturer – Dornier GmbH, HAL (under licence)
- In service of IAF – From 1986
- No. of aircrafts – 50
The Dornier Do 228 is a twin-engine turboprop, multirole, military transport aircraft. It is a type of STOL (Short takeoff and landing) aircraft, which requires takeoff runway of only 792 m and landing runway of only for 451 m.
- Crew – 2
- Capacity – 19 passengers
- Payload – 2,057 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight – 6,575 kg
- Maximum speed – 428 km/h
- Range – 396 km with full payload
The Dornier Do 228 can be deployed in passenger and cargo transportation, as an air taxi, for aircrew training, maritime surveillance, search and rescue missions, border patrol, and medical evacuation missions. It is typically promoted for its versatility, low operational costs, and a high level of reliability. Its variants are also used by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
HAL got its licensed production in 1983, to manufacture 125 Dornier Do 228 aircrafts. Its production was started in 1986 in Kanpur, UP.
Hawker Siddley HS 748
- Origin – UK
- Manufacturer – Avro, HAL (under licence)
- In service of IAF – 1964
- No. of aircraft – 57
The HS 748 is a medium-sized, twin-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It has a high level of performance, overall ruggedness, and STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) capabilities.
- Crew – 3 (2 pilots and 1 passenger attendent)
- Capacity – 40-58 passengers
- Payload – 5,136 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight – 21,092 kg
- Maximum speed – 452 km/h
- Range – 1715 km with full payload
HS 748 lacks a rear ramp facility, due to which it not used for cargo transportation. It is used only for the transportation of troops, small ammunitions, and senior executives or VIPs.
HAL got its licensed production during the 1960s, and 89 aircraft of type HAL-748 was built in HAL’s facility at Kanpur, UP. Due to its aging fleet, the IAF is planning to replace it with the Airbus C-295 aircraft in the future.
Apart from these aircraft, three other IAF Transport aircrafts are also used by IAF for VIP’s and VVIP’s transportation including Embraer Legacy 600, Boeing 777 ( known as Air India One, used by President, Prime Minister and Vice President of India during overseas visit) and Boeing 737.
After discussing about the IAF Transport aircrafts, we can conclude that we need to upgrade our existing fleet and we have to purchase more transport aircraft or we have to manufacture it indigenously.
If you know about other IAF Transport aircrafts, tell us about it in comment section……..