Ilyushin-76s, C-130Js and C-17s have proved the prudence of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in their acquisitions, especially during the ongoing rescue and relief operations in Nepal.
Three days after the first big magnitude tremor on 25 April was felt, the Indian Army has set up a 45-bed hospital at a location just outside Kathmandu. The medical teams of the service - 18 of them - have also begun to run three field hospitals in Kathmandu, Pokhara and one in an area close to these towns.
The effort began within hours of the earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday as a IAF C-130 J Super Hercules aircraft flew from Bhatinda in Punjab province with a group of 39 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel and 3.9 tons of cargo comprising emergency supplies. The aircraft returned that night with 55 Indian passengers rescued from the Nepalese capital.
On the same day, one Ilyushin-76 aircraft also inducted a NDRF team, and another IL-76 flew with 163 NDRF personnel with five sniffer dogs, plus 28 tons of load. It returned with 152 rescued men, women and children.
IAF’s newest transport aircraft acquisition, the C-17 Globemaster III, flew the same day with medical supplies. It returned at the dawn of the next day 237 passengers. Another C-17 flew with 96 NDRF men and 15 tons of supplies, while on the return journey brought back 102 people and a baby.
In total, by Monday (28 April) the IL-76, C-130J and C-17s flights were undertaken to Kathmandu that accounted for taking along army forward hospitals, engineering task forces, water, food, more NDRF teams, medical personnel and equipments, besides blankets and tents.
Added to that were the MI-17s and MI-17V5s that flew into the nooks and crannies of the Himalayan mountain ranges, and rescued climbers, villagers - those who needed evacuation.
For its transport fleet, the Indian Air Force operates C-17 Globemaster III, Il-76, An-32, HS 748, Do 228, Boeing 737, ERJ 135, Il-78 MKI and C-130J for rescue missions.