NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force has set a new time record of its own by flying its longest non-stop flight. The feat came last month, when an IAF heavy lift transport plane flew at least 8100 km at a stretch, from Chennai to Australia.
The Indian Air Force transport plane was flown to Australia to take part in the multi-nation Pitch Black air exercises that were hosted by Australia in August. The non-stop flight, which took about 11 hours, happened in August 16.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster of the IAF took off from Chennai just before sunrise and landed on the runway of Townsville on the eastern coast of Australia 11 hours later. This flying feat is significant because it is another demonstration of India's strategic airlift capability.
That means the IAF has the capability of moving large amounts of personnel over long distances. Strategic airlift capability allows military the leadership to move soldiers, large guns and even battle tanks from one theatre of war to another. Meaning, a large number of Indian soldiers, battle tanks, artillery guns and supplies can be moved quickly from India's western front to the eastern front. This also means a military can spend on fewer pieces of expensive equipment to play roles across a massive area.
The Indian Air Force is the world's second largest operator of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft. It has 10 of the massive jets, far behind the US fleet of 222.
The C-17 is a massive plane. It's huge capacity and heavy lifting capability can see it carry multiple battle tanks at once. It also has massive holding room for troops and cargo.
The C-17 can also be pressed into service in disaster, relief and rescue operations. IAF C-17s were a major component of India's efforts to evacuate a large number of Indians and people of other nationalities from Yemen, when the civil war intensified in 2015.