Four IAF’s C-17s to bring back 800 Indians from Ukraine in next 12 hours
The C-17, which has been deployed to evacuate Indian citizens under Operation Ganga, is capable of non-stop flights to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries and each aircraft can accommodate around 200 people
NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday sent four C-17 military transport aircraft to Romania, Poland and Hungary to join the ongoing national effort to evacuate Indian citizens from conflict-torn Ukraine in the midst of a war with Russia, officials familiar with the development said. The C-17s carried relief material to their destination.
The deployment came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told IAF to join Operation Ganga, the codename for the massive evacuation effort.
The first IAF aircraft from Romania is likely to land at Hindon airbase at 1.30am, the officials said. Three more aircraft will return by 8am on Thursday. In all, the four aircraft will bring back about 800 Indian evacuees. Minister of state for defence Ajay Bhatt will receive them at the airport.
The C-17 is capable of non-stop flights to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries and each aircraft can accommodate around 200 people, said IAF vice chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh. He said the evacuation effort would be conducted round the clock till all Indian nationals were brought back safely.
The C-17s played a crucial role in transporting soldiers and military equipment to eastern Ladakh last year when the border row with China was at its peak. The US-origin heavy-lifter was also at the centre of the IAF’s efforts for Covid relief last year.
The aircraft was also used to evacuate Indian citizens from Afghanistan last year. It has been involved in humanitarian missions in Nepal, the Maldives and Yemen in recent years.
IAF operates a fleet of 11 C-17 heavy lifters, bought from the US in a government-to-government deal worth around $4.5 billion. The C-17 can takeoff from a 7,000-foot airstrip with 72,574 kg of payload, fly 4,481 km and land on a small, unprepared runway measuring less than 3,000 feet.