IAF Airlifts Oxygen Container Trucks, Medical Facilities as Covid Crisis Cripples India


Hospitals in India have been consumed by a desperate scramble for oxygen as the number of Coronavirus infections continue to rise unabated, pushing health services to the brink.

In a bid to ensure the availability of oxygen to hospitals, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday deployed its C-17 transport aircraft to airlift two empty container trucks from Pune to Jamnagar in Gujarat.

In Jamnagar, these containers will be filled with liquid medical oxygen and will make their return journey to Pune by road. Liquid oxygen cannot be transported by air as it is unsafe.

The operation started at 8am from the Hindon Airbase in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and was wrapped up at 1.30 pm at the Jamnagar air base.

Similarly, two empty cryogenic oxygen containers have been transported from Jodhpur to Jamnagar by the IAF C-17 heavy lift aircraft. So far, eight have been airlifted from Begumpet to Bhubaneshwar and one from Indore to Jamnagar.

The IAF is using its entire transport fleet to ensure that the turnaround time of oxygen supply is cut by half by airlifting large container trucks one way.

India has the capacity to produce 7,000 MT of medical oxygen daily. Liquid oxygen with 99.5% purity is manufactured and stored in jumbo tankers, and transported to distributors in cryogenic tankers at a specified temperature.

As of now with skyrocketing demands, India is short of these tankers that carry oxygen. The IAF is also airlifting these high-capacity tankers from Singapore and UAE. A C-17 transport aircraft that landed in the Changi Airport and carried back cryogenic tankers reached the Panagarh airbase in West Bengal on Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, it has also been mandated to airlift 23 Oxygen Generating Plants from Germany.

Not just oxygen tankers, the IAF is transporting medical teams and equipment across the country. Its Chinook Helicopters on Saturday transported RT-PCR testing equipment from Jammu to Leh.

Personnel and equipment of the IAF Rapid Action Medical Team (RAMT) have been airlifted from Jorhat to Hindon by a C-130 transport aircraft. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday, for a second day, met with all three service chiefs and the CDS to review Covid-19 efforts and how the forces can further help the civil administration.

Additional doctors and super specialists have been deployed at the DRDO Covid facility in Delhi.

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