India to buy six Lockheed transport aircraft

February 18th, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) The US defence and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has signed a deal with the Indian government worth an estimated $1.1 billion to sell six Super Hercules C-130J military transport planes. “We are proud India chose the C-130J to meet its airlift needs,” Orville Prins, vice-president for business development in India for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, told reporters at the ongoing defence exposition here.

“They will soon join the ranks of seven countries who experience first hand the outstanding capabilities of the C-130J Super Hercules,” Prins said, even as the company made a strong pitch for its F-16 multi-role fighters.

He said the aircraft’s heavy-lift capabilities, advanced cockpit avionics and versatility in adverse terrain and flying conditions will help it exceed India’s unique requirements for an advanced tactical air lifter.

The C-130J model is the latest version of the Hercules C-130 that has been configured for landing and takeoff from a grassy field or dirt patch the size of a football field. It can climb and get out of a threat area fast.

Named after the powerful Greek figure, the four-engine Hercules is one of the oldest transport aircraft in the world that was introduced in the 1950s and is being used in 67 countries.

The cost of the Super Hercules deal has not been disclosed but indications from Washington place the package at nearly $1.1 billion, which outstrips the cost of the earlier two deals put together.

The US government will guarantee supplies of equipment and infrastructure under its foreign military sales programme but not commercial details such as offsets that is left to the manufacturing company.

Both the F-16IN warplane and the C-130J have inherent capabilities to meet the long-term requirements for military aircraft in India, Prins said, adding that a proposal for the multi-role combat aircraft has also been submitted to the Indian government.

Lockheed Martin’s F-16 is among the six multi-role combat aircraft for which the government has called for request for proposals. The others are Boeing’s F-18, Russia’s MIG-35, Saab’s Gripen, Dassault’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

“The F-16 is specifically designed to meet or exceed India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement and provides even greater frontline capability with bottom-line reliability,” Prins said.

Assembly lines for producing the F-16 have been established successfully in five countries - the US, Turkey, South Korea, Belgium and the Netherlands. As many as 24 countries have chosen the F-16s with 52 follow-on buys, he added.

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