New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon place a follow-on order for six more C-130J Super Hercules medium-lift transporters and these will be based in Charbatia in Orissa to operate in the country`s eastern and northeastern sector, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, said at a press conference here on Monday that the new lot of C-130Js will operate in the Northeast and go right up to the Car Nicobar air base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Discussions with the US government and the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin for the new batch of aircraft were on, and the order is expected to be placed by January 2012, he said.
The C-130J can land and take off from unpaved, grassy fields the size of a football ground and can be a big support in both peace and war to drop or pick up equipment, soldiers and those hit by calamities.
To meet its special operations requirement, the IAF had signed a deal for six C-130J aircraft for about USD 1.1 billion in January 2008, and five of these aircraft have been delivered within 2011 as contacted, much ahead of their scheduled delivery time.
The sixth aircraft from the first lot will be delivered in November and from then, the IAF will begin training with the special forces, paratroopers and the National Security Guard, Browne said.
He also noted that the C-130J were used for the first time by the IAF for carrying out relief material and forces to the earthquake hit Sikkim last month.