Amidst tensions with China, how C-17s are lifting the 46 tonne T-90 tanks

Vicky Nanjappa

New Delhi, June 29: The sorties continue unabated with no signs of de-escalation at the Line of Actual Control.

The Indian Air Force's capability has been ramped up immensely, with the induction of the C-17 Globemaster Super Hercules and the CH-47 Chinook. The Indian Army's strike formations are now spearheaded by the T-90 tanks.

Airlifting the T-90s was an important aspect for the IAF. The 46 tonne tanks is very crucial to the Indian Army as it faces the Chinese deployments, which also include a mix of both heavy and light tanks.

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Airlifting the T-90 tank was possible only due to C-17, which has a payload capacity of 77 tonnes. The C-17 have come in handy because the Il-76 could airlift only 45 tonnes, while the weight of the T-90 is 46 tonnes. The C-17s have been in service since 2013 and there are 11 of them.

The Indian Army had three regiments of the older T-72 tanks, which weigh around 40 tonnes. Earlier, the IL-76 would airlift the T-72s and this is an exercise that has been going on since the 1990s.

Since tank transporters can only be used on some road stretches within Ladakh, it was not practical to negotiate the high mountain passes and narrow stretches that lie on the road link from the mainland to Ladakh.

The IAF's capability was also enhanced with the procurement of 15 Chinooks. This has in fact enhanced the round the clock and all weather capability, especially in the mountains, where manoeuvrability is a major issue.

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