UPDATE 2 JANUARY 2013: India officially signed the deal for the six new C-130Js, at a price of US$1.1 billion.
India is to buy an additional six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Lockheed Martin, once the Indian cabinet council for Security and the US government has given the final administration approvals.
The Indian Defence Ministry already gave the green light, as reported by Indian media last weekend. India has currently six C-130Js, with the first delivered on December 16, 2010. They fly with 77 Squadron out of Hindon Airbase.
The Defence Ministry wants to base the second batch of the American made tactical transport aircraft at Panagarh in West Bengal. There are also plans to base a special mountain battle group there to protect the area adjacent to the border with China. The Super Hercules would have to support that strike group, which will mean anything from transporting bulk loads up to the insertion of paratroop commandos.
India is said to be very pleased with the operational characteristics of the C-130J in difficult conditions in mountainous terrain, like when the airplanes were deployed recently for disaster relief in flood-hit areas, a secundary task of the transport fleet.
The earlier C-130J deal between the US/Lockheed Martin included training of aircrew, maintenance, spare parts, ground support, test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets, special operations equipment and a three year on-site support by Lockheed Martin personnel. The framework of the second deal is still uncertain.
The C-130J is powered by four Rolls Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six bladed props which provide the aircraft with a relative large amount of power. It has a crew of two pilots plus a loadmaster. The Super Hercules can carry up to 92 passengers, 64 paratroopers, 6 cargo pallets, two to three terrain vehicles or one smaller armoured personnel carrier.
The normal cruise speed is 348 knots and the effective range 3,262 miles (5,250 km). With an effective payload (42,000 pounds/19,000 kg) it can operate up to 28,000 feet.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger
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