IAF`s first C-130J aiflifter to arrive this week

The Indian Air Force`s new acquisition from the US for special forces operations, the C-130J Super Hercules airlifter, will reach its home base at Hindon on the outskirts of the national capital this week.

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 15:22 PM IST

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force`s new acquisition from the US for special forces operations, the C-130J Super Hercules airlifter, will reach its home base at Hindon on the outskirts of the national capital this week, ahead of its formal induction in February, an officer said.

He told a news agency that the first C-130J would be flown into Hindon by an IAF crew and would be readied for joining the service. A function to mark its induction would be held at its home base in the first week of February, he added.

This will be the first of the six C-130Js that India has ordered from the US in a deal worth USD 950 million in 2008. The other five aircraft would be delivered by the end of the year.

The US Air Force (USAF), which is executing the government-to-government deal, had taken possession of the first C-130J at a ceremony at manufacturer Lockheed Martin`s facility at Marietta near Atlanta Dec 16 last year.

It was that very day handed over to the IAF.

Though the US is supplying the six aircraft under its Foreign Military Sales route, Lockheed Martin will execute an offsets commitment under which 30 percent of USD 950 million - about USD 285 million - will be reinvested in the Indian defence industry.

The four-engined Hercules will be used by India for transporting its special forces for strategic operations behind enemy lines and is expected to considerably enhance Indian armed forces` special missions capability.

The USAF is training nine batches of IAF crew of 18 pilots, nine loadmasters and nine combat system operators to fly and operate the aircraft. Five of these batches would complete their training in February.

Additionally, nearly 100 maintenance officers and technicians are also being trained at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas and Marietta.

The IAF, on its part, has modernised its Hindon air base by extending the runway and establishing state-of-the-art hangars, servicing and operations facilities for the C-130J aircraft.

In keeping with IAF requirements, the US government 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 such 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 a hostile air defence environment.

In addition, these aircraft will have refuelling probes, advance radar warning receivers and a counter-measures dispensing system for extended range and additional safety.

IANS