India has purchased six of the cargo planes through a foreign military sale, meaning the U.S. government acted as a middleman. Besides the planes, the $1.2 billion contract includes training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spares, ground support and test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets and a three-year support system during which a team of technical specialists will be based in India.
"Today begins a new glorious, enduring partnership with India, as the fourth largest air force in the world proudly joins the worldwide C-130 family," Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin's vice president for C-130 Programs, said during the midday ceremony on Thursday.
Also included in the package is India-unique operational equipment designed to increase Special Operations capabilities. The first two C-130Js will be flown to India early next year, with the remaining four deliveries scheduled for later in 2011. India's new airlift fleet will be based at Hindon Air Force Station, near New Delhi.
The plane has an Infrared Detection Set and can perform precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions.
The C-130J is powered by four Rolls Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six bladed props, which provide tremendous power to the plane. Lockheed officials said India's military generally operates out of austere, high-elevation airstrips in hot conditions, and that the C-130J has performed well in recent years in similar conditions in mountainous Afghanistan.
"We are honored to have been chosen to provide the Indian Air Force with six C-130Js - the first major U.S. military sale to India in more than 40 years," Rhyant said at the ceremony. "Today signals the beginning of a partnership that I believe will endure for many, many years. To our guests representing the Government of India and the Indian Air Force ... our talented and dedicated employees are building you the finest military aircraft in the world, and it is on their behalf that I thank you for the trust and confidence you have placed in Lockheed Martin. We will do everything possible to deliver performance beyond your expectations."
Seventy-two countries now own or operate the C-130. The J version of the aircraft has already been sold to 14 countries, including the United States, for both the Air Force and Marines; Italy; Australia; the United Kingdom; Norway; and India.