Lockheed gets $596 mn contract for India-bound military planes

March 29th, 2008 - 12:07 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 29 (IANS) The US Defence Department has awarded aerospace giant Lockheed Martin a $596 million Air Force contract for work on six Super Hercules C-130J military transport planes that India is buying, its first major military purchase from the US for over 40 years. New Delhi also has options on another six C-130Js, which will be used to support operations involving its special forces personnel and be equipped with missile and radar warning systems.

This is the first major military contract between India and US for more than 40 years. Russia has supplied 70 percent of India’s arms, but New Delhi has been seeking diverse sources in recent years as it modernises its armed forces.

India is buying the aircraft through the US government’s foreign military sales programme, the Pentagon announced here Friday.

Named after the powerful Greek figure, the four-engine Hercules is one of the oldest transport aircraft in the world. Lockheed has sold over 2,300 C-130s to 67 countries since 1954.

The C-130J requires only three crew members for most missions. Current users include Australia, Denmark, Italy, Britain and the US, with Canada and Norway also having recently ordered the planes.

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.

“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 Indian media during the recent defence exposition in New Delhi.

“They will soon join the ranks of seven countries who experience first hand the outstanding capabilities of the C-130J Super Hercules,” Prins said.

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