NEW DELHI, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The Indian Air Force officially inducted the first three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transporters this week.
Boeing delivered the three -- the first of 10 C-17 aircraft on order -- during the past three months, a report by NDTV said.
Two more are expected by the end of the year and the last five will be delivered by the end of next year.
The aircraft is capable of lifting tanks to the border with China and Pakistan and made its debut with a test flight at the Hindon Air Base in Uttar Pradesh state.
"The C-17 Globe Master transport aircraft will change the way we deploy forces in the north and northeast," Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said on Monday during the induction.
India's Defense Acquisition Council approved the purchase in October 2009 to replace the air force's aging Russian IL-76 transporters that it bought in the 1990s.
The air force has fewer than 20 of Ilyushins which have a 45-ton cargo capacity and needs a crew of six.
The force also has the Russian Antonov-32 in its inventory.
A report by India Today said the acquisition of the C-17 Aircraft, and the Boeing C-130J Super Hercules transporter, shows the air force is moving away from reliance on Russian-origin aircraft toward American ones.
India operates six C-130Js and plans to buy six more for operations on small and unpaved runways alongside routine transport missions.
The C-17 carries up to 80 tons and needs a crew of three. One person can operate the heavy-lift hydraulics for cargo handling.
The high-wing, 4-engine, T-tailed Globemaster -- powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines -- needs a 7,600-foot airfield to take off. But it can land in less than 3,000 feet on a small unpaved or paved airfield, day or night.
It also carries a payload of 160,000 pounds, flies 2,400 nautical miles and can refuel in flight.
Boeing recently said that the deal with India includes an Integrated Sustainment Program Performance-Based Logistics contract which, with other customers, has maintained a fleet availability of 85 percent.
The C-17 has been in operation since 1991 and has more than 2.6 million flight-hours, Boeing says on its website.
Boeing has delivered 256 C-17s, including 222 to the U.S. Air Force. The rest have gone to and Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.