Along with these pictures, Lockheed Martin released a simple statement
The first of six C-130J Super Hercules for India took to the skies for its maiden flight yesterday. The aircraft will now complete a series of company and customer flight tests prior to delivery in December. The second and third aircraft are due to fly within the next few weeks.
Signed back in 2007, the $962 million Super Hercules contract was the first major defence deal between India and United States. These aircraft are expected to be used by the special forces of India like the Black Cats, and will be equipped with a Forward Looking Infra-red (FLIR) AAQ-22 Star Safire III sensor turret which permits operations in complete darkness as well as an in-flight refuelling probe.
The United States and Boeing are looking forward to close another deal with the Indian Air Force later this year, when President Obama visits India, for a proposed fleet of ten Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft, a deal expected to be valued around $4.4~$5.6 billion.
The C-17 procurement will be the second procurement by Indian armed forces from Boeing. The Indian Navy signed a $2.2 billion contract in January 2009, to procure eight of an Indian variant of the Boeing P-8a Poseidon called the P-8I. The P-8I is maritime patrol and anti submarine warfare aircraft based on the Boeing 737 commercial aircraft platform.
Both Lockheed Martin (F-16IN SuperViper) and Boeing (F/A-18 SuperHornet) are also competing with vendors across the globe for the $5.5+ billion Indian Air Forces Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) tender which should be finalised in 2011.