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The Indian Air Force (IAF), boasting the second-largest fleet of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft globally, might be exploring new avenues for these versatile transport planes. This follows news of the US Air Force (USAF) developing the C-17 for potential combat roles beyond traditional cargo transport.

The USAF is spearheading the “Rapid Dragon” project, which investigates the feasibility of deploying C-17s for offensive missions. This involves using these heavy-lift aircraft to drop air-launched cruise missiles against targets. This capability could prove valuable in scenarios where the USAF faces adversaries with advanced air defense systems.

While the IAF hasn’t officially confirmed similar plans, the potential for such adaptation holds significance for India. Like many US allies, India lacks a dedicated long-range bomber fleet. However, their sizable C-17 fleet could potentially be modified to fulfill a secondary offensive role, expanding the operational envelope of the IAF, particularly in the Indian Ocean Region.

The USAF’s initiative paves the way for partner nations like India to explore similar adaptations for their C-17s. By leveraging existing infrastructure and expertise, the IAF could potentially enhance its offensive capabilities without the need for a wholly new bomber fleet.

While the concept holds promise, certain aspects require consideration. Modifying the C-17 for offensive missions might necessitate technical adjustments and additional training for aircrews. Additionally, the effectiveness of such adaptations in real-world combat scenarios remains to be tested.