In a capability demonstration, C-17 military cargo aircraft (Boeing C-17 Globemaster III) landed at Thanjavur Airforce station at 7.15 p.m. on Sunday.

The high range, heavy weight aircraft, hovered over the Air Traffic Control building and landed majestically in the runway and glided to its parking place.

Airforce officials told presspersons witnessing the landing, that it was for the first night landing of such a big aircraft and also the first C-17 landing in an airbase in South India. The Aircraft is 174 ft long, 55.1 ft high and the fuselage diameter is 22.5 ft. Cargo floor length is 68.2 ft and load capacity is 18,144 kgs.

The aircraft is likely to make some sorties on Monday and it will be in the Airforce station for two more days. In a couple of days a few more fighter planes are expected to arrive in Thanjavur Airforce station.

C-17s will be used to perform strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo. Additional roles include tactical airlift, medical evacuation and air drops.

In June 2009, Indian Air Force selected the C-17s to fulfil its very heavy lift transport Aircraft requirement and to replace its fleet of ageing transport planes. In January 2010, the U.S. Government received a request from India for ten C-17s through the US Foreign Military Programme which was approved by the U.S. congress in June 2010. IAF successfully test landed a C-17 at Gaggal Airport India, to complete its C-17s trials.

In February 2011, the IAF and Boeing agreed terms for the order of ten C-17s with an option for six more. Deliveries began in 2013 and will go on until the end of 2014.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, dedicated a full fledged first fighter plane base of the IAF in the southern peninsula at Thanjavur on May 27, 2013, on Monday.

At that time Mr. Antony said the establishment of a premiere fighter base at Thanjavur assumes importance in the context of geopolitical scenario and in view of threat perception in the oceanic region around the peninsula. Two sukhoi 30 aircrafts took off one after another and made a war formation to mark the dedication.

“By a strong presence of IAF fighter squadron in stations like Thanjavur, the country can be confident and safe,” Mr. Antony had said.

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