Defence major Lockheed Martin on Friday delivered the first of six C-130Js to the Indian Air Force at Mariettain.
The IAF would deploy this latest fleet of airlifters, configured for special operations and airborne assault, on the outskirts of New Delhi to cut down on response time in situations akin to the 26/11 terror attacks. The C-130J Super Hercules airlifters, capable of operating from unprepared runways, would be based at the Hindon air force station in UP’s Ghaziabad’s district.
The planes come equipped with air-to-air refueling capability and have self-protection systems that improve chances of survival in hostile situations. The forces of the the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy and US already operate this aircraft. Friday’s delivery is part of a $1.2-billion (R 5,400 crore) contract the defence ministry had signed in 2008 for six C-130Js, under Washington’s foreign military sales programme.
The contract includes training of crew and technicians, supply of spares, ground support, test equipment, cargo pallets, and a team of technical specialists that would be based in India for a three-year initial support period. The first two C-130Js would be flown to in January, followed by the remaining four by the end of 2011.
The IAF is further toying with the idea of buying six KC-130J tankers, used by the US Marines, in an add-on to reinforce its aerial refuelling capabilities, said sources.