New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has flown 732 sorties with a flying time of over 1,419 hours within the country and across the globe transporting Covid relief materials in the last one month. In the past one week, IAF’s flying time for Covid relief operations increased three-fold, from 500 hours to 1,419 hours, the force said. Also Read - Third COVID Wave Unlikely to Affect Children in India, Finds WHO-AIIMS Study

On Wednesday morning, an IAF C-17 aircraft airlifted two cryogenic oxygen tankers from Agra to Jamnagar and two tankers from Indore to Jamnagar.  “The aircraft took off from Agra early in the morning at 1:30 am on May 12 and landed back at Agra after completing all the tasks at around 8:15 am,” said the Indian Air Force. Also Read - Chhattisgarh Police Files FIR Against Yoga Guru Ramdev for Spreading 'False Information' on Allopathy

The IAF stated that in the 98 sorties abroad flying 480 hours, it airlifted 95 oxygen containers that have a capacity of 793 MT and other relief materials like oxygen generators, oxygen concentrators etc. from foreign countries. Also Read - Pregnant, Postpartum Women More Severely Affected During Second Covid Wave Than First: ICMR study

The aircraft flew to the UAE, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, Australia, Indonesia, Israel and the UK, among other countries.

Within Indian, the IAF aircraft have done 634 sorties with 939 hours of flying time carrying 403 empty oxygen containers with a capacity of 6856.2 MT and other equipment.

The force said that IAF was pressed into service on April 16 after the second Covid-19 wave hit the country. On April 24, the IAF made its first sortie abroad to pick up oxygen tankers from Singapore.

The IAF has been carrying out round-the-clock operations and the frequency of sorties is on the rise. Within a week, the flying hours have increased from 500 hours on May 4 to 1,400 hours as of May 12.

The IAF’s C17 and IL76 transport aircraft, which are crucial for heavy lift capabilities, have been pressed into action to ensure quick airlifting of bulky oxygen containers and oxygen generation plants to augment the supply of liquid medical oxygen in the country.

The acute shortage of medical oxygen had created to a big crisis, leading to deaths of several Covid patients. This prompted the IAF to start a war-like mission to airlift oxygen containers, the force said.