India among C-130 plane operators at Lockheed meet



New Delhi: India, among the new operators of Lockheed Martin's C-130 Hercules cargo planes, is attending a three-day conference being hosted by the American major company in the US beginning Tuesday.

The meet has attracted about 800 representatives from 34 nations, including India and Qatar that are new among the nations operating the aircraft, along with 90 supplier companies for the cargo plane.

India, represented by Indian Air Force (IAF) officials at the conference, has bought six C-130J Super Hercules for its special military operations. The fleet operated by the IAF from the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, carried out its first humanitarian assistance mission during the Sikkim earthquake last month by carrying disaster relief material and rescue workers.

The 23rd Hercules Operators' Conference in Marietta, US, will focus on C-130 Hercules support, operations, upgrades and new fleet acquisition, a release from Lockheed Martin said here.

"This year's theme of 'Relevance and Affordability' provides insight into how the C-130 Hercules can meet the needs of multiple operators from a single baseline," the release said.

"As C-130 production continues at a high rate, Lockheed Martin seeks additional ways to keep all C-130 models viable through cost-effective modifications and upgrades," Lockheed Martin director of C-130 International Operations John Cottam said during the opening ceremony of the conference.

"We know that the C-130 will be here for decades to come and we want to make sure we support all airframes according to our operators' needs," Cottam said

"There is nothing like a Hercules and nothing that can replace a Hercules. Some have tried and some are still trying, but the reality is that the aircraft's concept, design and proven capabilities have been, and still are, the standard for airlift throughout modern history," he added.

The US Air Force has recently received HC-130J Personnel Recovery and MC-130J Special Operations aircraft.

At the end of this month, Lockheed Martin will roll out the 250th C-130J Super Hercules, destined for Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, which will be the world's largest C-130J feet operator with 28 aircraft.

IANS