`Hercules` aircraft to boost IAF`s special ops capabilities
New Delhi: The Indian Air Force will receive its first C-130 J `Hercules` transport aircraft in the first week of January next year, strengthening its special operations capabilities.
The first of the six aircraft procured by India under a USD 970 million deal was handed over to IAF in mid-December.
The first C-130J will arrive in the country in the first week of January and would be formally inducted into service thereafter, Defence Ministry officials said here.
The aircraft, expected to considerably enhance IAF`s special missions capability, will also be used for transporting men and material.
In 2008, India had purchased the aircraft under the US government`s Foreign Military Sales route that includes an
offset clause under which the firm will invest 30 percent of the deal amount back in Indian defence industry.
The aircraft will be based at Hindan in Ghaziabad just outside the capital, where the infrastructure for its deployment has been completed.
The aircraft would also be pressed into service for transporting special forces from the capital to other places in the country in case need arises.
Nine sets of IAF crew comprising 18 pilots, nine load masters and nine combat system operators are being trained in the US. Of them, five sets of crew members would complete their training in February next year.
The US government had offered a unique C-130J configuration modified for special mission roles and these will be the first uniquely configured aircraft in the IAF fleet for its special operations.
The aircraft will be able to perform precision low-level flying, air drops, and landing in blackout conditions. Special features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defense environment.
In addition, these aircraft will have refueling probes, advance radar warning receivers and counter measure dispensing
system for extended range and additional safety.
India is also planning to place orders for six more similar aircraft and likely to send a Letter of Request to the US Government in this regard in near future.
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