The first three of six C-130J Super Hercules airlifters purchased by India in a $1 billion deal with US have taken the final positions on Lockheed Martin's assembly line in Marietta, Georgia.
Equipped with an infrared detection set (IDS), the aircraft for the first time will provide the IAF an ability to conduct precision low-level flying operations, airdrops and landings in blackout conditions.
With the first C-130Js aircraft scheduled for arrival in India February 2011, the Indian Army and Air Force will get "new special operations capabilities using the world's most advanced airlifter," the plane's manufacturer said Wednesday
To ensure 80 percent availability of the aircraft at any given time, Lockheed Martin has offered a long-term maintenance contract to the IAF on the lines of the ones it has with the US Air Force and the air forces of Australia, Britain and Canada.
The C-130J primarily performs the tactical portion of an airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The flexible design of the Super Hercules enables it to be configured for many different missions, allowing for one aircraft to perform the role of many. Much of the special mission equipment added to the Super Hercules is removable, allowing the aircraft to quickly switch between roles.
The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had notified the Congress of the sale of aircraft as well as associated equipment and services in May 2007.
In announcing the deal, the Pentagon had said it "will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important partner and to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia."
As India and the US are forging an important strategic partnership, the deal "will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the US by providing the Indian Government with a credible special operations airlift capability that will deter aggression in the region, provide humanitarian airlift capability and ensure interoperability with US forces in coalition operations," it said.