US delivers last Super Hercules cargo plane this weekend

IANS

India is all set to induct the last of the six C-130J Super Hercules cargo plane for its Special Forces this weekend, with the US major Lockheed Martin flying out the aircraft from its Marietta facility near Atlanta in US on Dec 15. The aircraft fleet of six was bought by India in January 2008 for $1.2 billion and Lockheed Martin began delivery of the fleet in January 2011. The first of the six aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad near the Indian capital in February this year.

“Number six of the six C-130J Super Hercules ordered by India, under the US Foreign Military Sales programme, departed Marietta on Dec 15. This aircraft, like its five predecessors, was delivered ahead of schedule and under budget,” a Lockheed Martin official told IANS.

“The aircraft is scheduled to arrive at Hindon this weekend,” an IAF officer told IANS, when asked about its arrival.

Since ordering the six planes for its Special Forces operations, India has made a case for buying additional six of these aircraft and the agreement in this regard is all ready for signing, according to the IAF official.

The IAF has already used these planes for carrying out operations, particularly of the humanitarian assistance variety soon after the fleet’s induction.

In the aftermath of the severe 6.8 magnitude earthquake in September this year, the C-130J was the first of the planes to fly to the nearest air base in Baghdogra in West Bengal, carrying relief supplies and National Disaster Management Force members, within a flying time of under three hours.

It also did several more sorties to carry relief material for the victims of the earthquake.

On Dec 12 this year, the IAF simulated a piracy contingency at Campbell Bay in Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the furthermost island territory of India, based on intelligence input that an Indian merchant ship had been hijacked with hostages.

The mission simulated launching of a Para Special Forces team into the area using C-130J as airborne platform. During planning for the mock drill, the objective was found to be 3,500 nautical miles away and the route was fixed through Kolkata and Port Blair to the drop zone over Campbell Bay. The round trip would have required a staggering 12 hours of flying, the IAF official said.

The C-130J that day did a non-stop mission of 12 hours and three minutes without refuelling en route, completing the simulated mission with success, the official said.

The four-engine turboprop military transport plane has a minimum crew of three members comprising two pilots and a load master, can carry 64 fully geared troops and has the capability for a 20-tonne cargo. It can touch speeds of 700 kmph and can take off from landing strips of about 1,000 metres.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Dec 24 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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