The Indian Air Force (IAF) took delivery of the first of its stretched fuselage C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin at a ceremony in Marietta, Georgia, USA. The Indian Air Force has ordered six C-130Js under a $1.2 billion order under the United States’ Foreign Military Sale program, in late 2008. This order was the first of several orders placed on US vendors for a variety of aircraft.
Equipped with Rolls Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six bladed propellers, three aircraft are already in flight testing while three are in final stages of construction. KC-3801, the first of six C-130J Hercules, made its first flight, at Marietta, Georgia, USA on October 4th.
Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for C-130 Programs touched upon the motto of the IAF – Touch the sky with glory, and welcomed the fourth largest air force in the world as an operator of the C130.
Ordered in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai debacle when the NSG (Black Cats) commandos could not be transported from Delhi to Mumbai in time, the IAF version of the C-130J Super Hercules is a highly integrated and sophisticated configuration primarily intended to support India’s special operations and counter-terrorism requirements.
Equipped with a Forward Looking Infra-red (FLIR) AAQ-22 Star Safire III sensor turret, the aircraft can operate in complete darkness. The C-130J’s are also equipped with self-protection systems and other features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile environments and with air-to-air receiver refuelling capability for extended range operations.
The sale package being provided by the U.S. government and Lockheed Martin is comprehensive and includes six aircraft, training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spares, ground support and test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets and a team of technical specialists who will be based in India during a three-year initial support period. Also included in the package is India-unique operational equipment designed to increase Special Operations capabilities.
The first two C-130Js will be flown to India early next year, followed by the remaining four aircraft deliveries later in 2011. The fleet will be based at Hindon Air Force Station just outside the national capital New Delhi.