The first three of the six C130J Super Hercules aircraft for India have taken the final positions on Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Marietta, Georgia. Equipped with Infra-red Detection Set (IDS), these aircraft will provide the Indian Air Force (IAF) the capability to conduct precision low-level flying operations, airdrops and landings in black-out conditions. The first C130J aircraft is scheduled for arrival in India February 2011. With this the Indian Army and Air Force will attain a “new special operations capability using the world’s most advanced airlifter.”
Lockheed Martin is also known to have offered a long-term maintenance contract to the IAF, along the lines of the ones it has with the USAF and the Air Forces of Australia, Britain and Canada, in order to ensure 80 per cent availability of the aircraft at any given time. With the capability of operating from unprepared surfaces the C130J is the prime transport for dropping paratroopers and equipment into hostile areas. Its flexible design and detachable special mission equipment enable it to be configured for different missions thereby allowing it to perform a multi-faceted role. As India and the US forge 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 operation,” the Pentagon said.