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India bound Super Hercules takes maiden flight

First C-130J for India. A Lockheed Martin photo

WASHINGTON (PTI): The first of six C-130J Super Hercules for India took to the skies for its maiden flight on Monday, its manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday.

"The aircraft will now complete a series of company and customer flight tests prior to delivery in December. The second and third aircraft are due to fly within the next few weeks," the American manufacturer said in a statement.

India has placed order for six of C-130J Hercules, which are said to be the most advanced airlifter ever built.

The C-130J combines the latest in aerospace technology with a proven, rugged airframe design, resulting in an aircraft that gives an operator more capability with greater operational efficiency.

Being provided by the US government under a multi-billion package, it includes training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spares, ground support and test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets, and a team of technical specialists who will be based in India during a three year initial support period.

Also included in the package is India-unique operational equipment designed to increase Special Operations capabilities.

In addition, the C-130J Super Hercules will provide the Indian Air Force with modern and effective airlift to support a wide range of national requirements.

In keeping with the Indian Air Force requirements, the US government has offered a unique C-130J configuration modified for special mission roles.

Equipped with an Infrared Detection Set (IDS), the aircraft will be able to perform precision low-level flying, airdrops, and landing in blackout conditions.

Self protection systems and other features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defence environments.

In addition the aircraft is equipped with air-to-air receiver refuelling capability for extended range operations.

Officials said Lockheed Martin will integrate this equipment and other capabilities into the Indian configuration as agreed between the two governments.

The Indian Air Force's new Super Hercules will be the longer fuselage or "stretched" variant of the C-130J, similar to those being delivered to the US Air Force.

Deliveries to India will begin in December 2010.

With this India joins the growing number of nations with C-130J fleets including the US, Australia, Canada, Demark, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom. The C-130J carries eight 463L pallets, 97 medical litters, 24 CDS bundles, 128 combat troops and 92 paratroops.

The first C-130J rolled off the assembly line in October 1995. That same aircraft, which had been ordered by the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, flew for the first time on April 5, 1996.

Following one of the most comprehensive flight tests programs ever, the C-130J received type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in August 1998, and deliveries began soon afterward.


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