IAF to expand Yelahanka base for transport aircraft crew training
Yelahanka Air Base in Bangalore. DH Photo by B K Janardhan
"As part of our expansion plans to meet our future needs, we will be enhancing the capacity of the airbase to train more air crew, including pilots, flight engineers, flight gunners and ground staff for our transport aircraft and helicopters fleet," base commander Air Commodore S.P. Singh told reporters here.
With the IAF in the process of acquiring 10 C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift aircraft and 12 C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft from the US aerospace majors Boeing and Lockheed Martin to modernise its transport wing, the airbase is bracing up to train pilots for flying them.
"After pilots go through basic training at our flying academy in Hyderabad, we currently train them in batches to fly transport aircraft such as Dornier and AN-32 aircraft fleet. Going forward, pilots will be trained to fly C-17s and C-130Js as per requirement," Singh said ahead of the Air Force Day Oct 8 here and across the country.
Of the 10 C-17 aircraft ordered, three have been delivered to the IAF so far and two more will join by this year-end while the remaining five will be delivered in 2014. Its squadron is based at the Hindon air force station at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The C-17s will augment the air force capability to transport troops and heavy equipment like main battle tanks to the front as they have the capacity to carry 80 tonnes of load.
Of the dozen medium-lift aircraft C-130J the IAF ordered, six have been delivered so far.
"We give stage-2 and stage-3 training to fly transport aircraft and specialised training to fly choppers like the rugged Russian made Mi-8 and other copters. The pilots are also trained to fly modern aircraft for multi-role operations," said Singh.
The 50-year-old transport training wing of the air force station has four lodger units -- 112 HU (helicopter unit), 109 HU, Dornier Tettra School and the training command communication flight.
"The air base provides operational, maintenance and administrative support to the fixed wing aircraft and helicopters," Wing Commander Manish Sharma said on the occasion.
The unit is also the alma mater of flight engineers and flight gunners who are deployed on helicopters and the Russian-made Ilyushin (IL)-76, IL-78 and AN-32.