On Dec. 27, 2013, India and the U.S. Government signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for six more C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. Under a foreign military sales (FMS) program, this repeat order between the two governments is testament to the brilliant performance of the existing C-130J aircraft at the hands of the Indian Air Force over the last two years on Special Forces operations. These new aircraft will be stationed at Panagarh in West Bengal.
The C-130J Super Hercules provides the Indian Air Force with modern and effective airlift to support a wide range of national requirements.
The Indian Air Force received its first C-130J on Feb. 5, 2011, part of six aircraft contracted in 2008, which marked a watershed moment in Indo-U.S. relations. This was the first U.S. military purchase by India after four decades. All six aircraft were delivered to the IAF under budget and ahead of schedule.
The Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules is the world’s most advanced airlifter. Starting with the C-130J’s first flight on April 5, 1996, the worldwide Super Hercules fleet literally soared past an amazing milestone -—1 million flight hours — on April 30, 2013. These hours were contributed by 290 C-130Js, representing 13 different operators, including the IAF. During these 1million hours, hundreds of thousands of troops were transported from their homes and families, to support freedom and help others.
The aircraft combines the latest in aerospace technology with a proven, rugged airframe design, resulting in an aircraft that gives an operator more capability and options with greater operational efficiency. The C-130J-30 Super Hercules provides the Indian Air Force with modern and effective airlift to support a wide range of national requirements. In keeping with Indian Air Force requirements, the U.S. Government provided a unique C-130J modified for special mission roles. The aircraft is able to perform precision low-level flying, airdrops, and landing in blackout conditions. Special features are also included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defense environments. The aircraft also is equipped with air-to-air receiver refueling capability for extended range operations.
Shortly after the aircraft’s induction in 2011, one of the IAF’s Super Hercules first missions was a deployment to support relief operations in Sikkim after the massive earthquake in the treacherous Himalayan mountain region. This marked the first time a C-130J had ever landed in the region.
In June 2013, the IAF deployed one of its C-130Js to evacuate 244 people stranded in Uttarakhand by paralyzing floods in the area. In August of the same year, the aircraft was in the news again when a Veiled Vipers squadron crew landed a Super Hercules at Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip. The C-130 Hercules knows austere airstrips. The rugged workhorse was designed to handle landing in the dirt and has done so successfully for almost 60 years. But the landing at Daulat Beg Oldie took austere to a new level, literally. The C-130J has successfully operated for the past several years in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan and performed exceptionally well, and it is clearly doing as well in India.
This C-130J landing marked the first time any aircraft in this weight class had landed at Daulat Beg Oldie.
Daulat Beg Oldie’s dirt runway is the world’s highest airstrip, located at 16,614 feet in a remote area of the Himalayan Mountains. This C-130J landing marked the first time any aircraft in this weight class had landed at Daulat Beg Oldie. It’s certainly a record for the Veiled Vipers crew operating the aircraft and a new mark for the worldwide C-130J fleet.
In November 2013, the C-130J fleet from the Veiled Viper squadron made the news again when one aircraft was deployed in support of humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines after the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, which put many lives at risk. From the highest of heights to the wettest of floods, Indian Air Force crews show that India’s six C-130Js are ready for any mission, anywhere, anytime.
One of the C-130’s hallmarks throughout its near-60 years of operation have been its multi-mission flexibility. There have been more than 70 different variants of the aircraft produced to support countless missions ranging from airlift to firefighting to medical transport.
The C-130J follows in this tradition. To date, there have been eightC-130J model designations produced, including the C-130J combat delivery, C-130J-30 combat delivery extended fuselage, or stretch, U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J long-range surveillance, EC-130J psychological warfare, KC-130J combat delivery tanker, WC-130J weather reconnaissance, U.S. Air Force HC-130J personnel recovery aircraft, and the MC-130J Special Operation Forces tanker.
Lockheed Martin recently introduced the SC-130J Sea Hercules, a maritime patrol and long-range search and rescue aircraft. This J-model can be equipped with a range of equipment to allow crews to carry out such relatively straightforward missions as monitoring a coastline to firing standoff missiles or launching torpedoes. Available in three configurations, the SC-130J aligns with mission requirements similar to those of the Indian Coast Guard.
Like Hercs before it, the SC-130J leverages the proven airframe of the C-130J and its flexible capabilities to not only successfully complete missions, but redefine them as well. As the C-130J worldwide fleet flies toward 2 million flight hours, many of these hours will be logged by Super Hercs with new mission capabilities. And, these hours will be flown by operators — like the Indian Air Force — who continue to write new chapters to uphold the Super Hercules reputation as the world’s most proven airlifter.
Lockheed Martin continues to engage with the Indian Air Force, as well as other government agencies, to understand customer requirements and offer relevant capabilities and solutions that are, like the C-130J, proven and without equal.