New Delhi, Feb 4 (PTI) The Indian Air Force (IAF) willtomorrow induct the first of its six American C-130J Herculesaircraft at the Hindon air base near here, marking the entryof a US military plane into the service after four decades.
The aircraft had arrived in India last night from the USand would be formally inducted in operational service byDefence Minister A K Antony in presence of several seniormilitary officials and top American diplomats in the country.
With the induction of the American aircraft, the IAFwould be able to bridge the load-carrying gap between itsIl-76 and An-32s and also use it for carrying out SpecialForces operations, IAF chief Air Chief marshal P V Naik said.
The C-130J is the first US military aircraft India hasprocured under a USD 965 million foreign military sales dealin over four decades since it flew the American Douglas Dakotaand Fairchild Packet in the 1960s after which it shifted toSoviet-era planes such as Ilyushin-76 and the Antonov-32.
However, with India not signing defence agreements suchas the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandumof Agreement (CISMOA), the Indian Hercules will come withoutsome of the equipment asked for by the IAF.
"It was very clear that CISMOA not being signed willaffect certain things," Lockheed Martin''s senior ExecutiveOrville Prins said but assured that the aircraft supplied toIAF would meet its requirement.
"We have worked with the IAF to ensure that thecapability that they required on the aircraft for theirmission needs have been fully met," he added.
The IAF has also stated that even without some of theequipment required by it, its operational capability would notbe affected.
The four-engine aircraft, powered by the Rolls-RoyceAE2100D3 turboprop engine, can fly at a speed of 660 kmph andcan carry a payload of 21,770 kg.
It can also carry 92 troops for special operations andis suitable for a range of special operations like air drops,take offs and landing in complete darkness.
Besides Antony and Air Chief Naik, US Ambassador to IndiaTimothy J Roemer and USAF''s Chief of Staff General Norton ASchwartz would also witness the induction ceremony.
On the follow-on orders of the aircraft by the IAF, Prinssaid, "The proposal is under consideration with the IndianMinistry of Defence and Air Force."
He also mentioned that though the aircraft has beenacquired under foreign military sales (FMS) route, LockheedMartin will fulfil its commitment for 30 per cent offsetclause and would reinvest almost USD 285 million in the Indiandefence industry.
So far, nine batches of IAF crew, including 18 pilotshave been trained by the USAF to operate the aircraft.
Hindon air base has also been given a facelift to housethe aircraft with state-of-art hangars and servicingfacilities.