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Indian Air Force to induct first C-130J Hercules aircraft today


C-130J Hercules aircraft.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct the first of its six American C-130J Hercules aircraft at the Hindon air base near here on Saturday, marking the entry of a US military plane into the service after four decades.

The aircraft had arrived in India last night from the US and would be formally inducted in operational service by Defence Minister A K Antony in presence of several senior military officials and top American diplomats in the country.

With the induction of the American aircraft, the IAF would be able to bridge the load-carrying gap between its Il-76 and An-32s and also use it for carrying out Special Forces operations, IAF chief Air Chief marshal P V Naik said.

The C-130J is the first US military aircraft, that India has procured under a USD 965 million foreign military sales deal in over four decades since it flew the American Douglas Dakota and Fairchild Packet in the 1960s after which it shifted to Soviet-era planes such as Ilyushin-76 and the Antonov-32.

However, with India not signing defence agreements such as the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), the Indian Hercules will come without some of the equipment asked for by the IAF.

"It was very clear that CISMOA not being signed will affect certain things," Lockheed Martin's senior Executive Orville Prins said but assured that the aircraft supplied to IAF would meet its requirement.

"We have worked with the IAF to ensure that the capability that they required on the aircraft for their mission needs have been fully met," he added.

The IAF has also stated that even without some of the equipment required by it, its operational capability would not be affected.

The four-engine aircraft, powered by the Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine, can fly at a speed of 660 kmph and can carry a payload of 21,770 kg.

It can also carry 92 troops for special operations and is suitable for a range of special operations like air drops, take offs and landing in complete darkness.

Besides Antony and Air Chief Naik, US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer and USAF's Chief of Staff General Norton A Schwartz would also witness the induction ceremony.

On the follow-on orders of the aircraft by the IAF, Prins said, "The proposal is under consideration with the Indian Ministry of Defence and Air Force."

He also mentioned that though the aircraft has been acquired under foreign military sales (FMS) route, Lockheed Martin will fulfil its commitment for 30 per cent offset clause and would reinvest almost USD 285 million in the Indian defence industry.

So far, nine batches of IAF crew, including 18 pilots have been trained by the USAF to operate the aircraft.

Hindon air base has also been given a facelift to house the aircraft with state-of-art hangars and servicing facilities.

Tags:

IAF  C-130J  aircraft  

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