29/11/2016 9:23 AM IST | Updated 29/11/2016 9:53 AM IST

Indian Air Force's Biggest Aircraft Are Now Ferrying Tonnes Of Currency Across India

165 tonnes of cash airlifted in the last one week, more sorties are expected.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift transport aircrafts standing at Hindon Airbase during its induction into Indian Air Force on September 2, 2013 in Ghaziabad, India.

Heavy transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF)--the US-made C-130J Super Hercules, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and the C-17 Globemaster, manufactured by Boeing, have flown about 15 sorties in the last one-week carrying freshly printed notes from mints to distant regional centers of the Reserve Bank of India.

In an effort to ease the cash crunch after the Modi Government demonetized Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes on 8 November, the IAF was deployed. "We flew the first sortie on the 20th November and have been flying with cash since then," a top IAF official told HuffPost India. The sorties will continue and sorties are only likely increase in the coming weeks, he added.

Normally, currency is moved by a combination of road and rail links. And, places which aren't connected by either roads or rail link, like far flung areas of the North East, currency is moved by air.

In the last week, the IAF has lifted 165 tonnes of newly introduced Rs500 and Rs2,000 currency notes. Sources, without going into details of how much money had been moved in the IAF planes, said the IAF lifted freshly printed currency notes from security printing presses in Nasik, Mysore, Indore and Salboni (West Bengal). The new currency was airlifted to Chandigarh, Trivandrum and Shillong--covering a wide geographical spread in the sub-continent, among other places.

"We have been tasked to make available the new currency at the regional centers of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for further distribution as quickly as possible. The Ministry of Finance and the RBI decides on which centres receive the newly printed currency," IAF officials associated with the operation said.

"Heavy transporters are being used because they can fly longer distances without having to refuel, reducing security risks. And also, heavy transporters can also carry heavier load reducing the time as against smaller transport aircraft like the Soviet-origin AN-32s," a senior IAF official said.