JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Indian air force has begun sending about 100 airmen to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., to receive instruction from the 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 5, on how to operate the 10 C-17 Globemaster IIIs they recently purchased.
"The Indian air force purchased the C-17s and they need the training because these Indian airmen are going to be the ones standing up the initial C-17 unit (in India) and we were nominated to be the schoolhouse that teaches them," said Tech. Sgt. Paul Higgins, 373rd TRS Detachment 5 electrical environmental instructor.
The 373rd TRS Detachment 5's mission is to provide aircraft maintenance to the Department of Defense and its allies.
"We are learning the basics of the aircraft as well as the technical manual, which is quite helpful in learning the part numbers and other technical aspects of the C-17," said Indian air force Junior Warrant Officer Prakash Chand.
Each specialty-specific class has four students. The length of the course varies by specialty, but usually lasts about four to six weeks.
"We teach across the board" said Higgins. "Every specialty we have on the C-17, we are teaching here. We have electrical environmental, communication, navigation and general crew chief functions, just to name a few."
The training includes classroom time as well as hands-on work where the new maintainers apply the skills they learned in the classroom on simulation training aircraft.
"What we're learning here is going to help us to be able to maintain the C-17 aircraft in India," said IAF Junior Warrant Officer Ranbir Singh Rana. "We have very good and experienced instructors and very good communication with them. We are catching on very quickly and when we have questions, they are able to clear up things quickly."
The IAF expects to receive their C-17s in June 2013. India paid $4.1 billion for the aircraft, which is expected to replace their IL-76 fleet.
The C-17 provides the Indian air force with a payload of 164,900 pounds and can take off from a 7,000-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles, and land on a small, austere airfield with runways of 3,000 feet or less. The C-17 is equipped with an externally blown flap system that allows a steep, low-speed final approach and low-landing speeds for routine short-field landings.
The first group of students graduated Nov. 8.