In May 2006, India Defence quoted Air Chief S.P. Tyagi saying that “the IAF is planning to buy C-130J planes” for its special forces and Border Security Forces. Reports indicate that the IAF was particularly attracted to the C-130J’s ability to land and take off even in improvised or short airfields, and without lights. Those characteristics have served the Hercules well in other anti-terrorism scenarios like Operation Yonatan in Entebbe, and are now more routine maneuvers thanks to the C-130J Hercules’ modern avionics and increased engine power. That extra power also means that the ‘J’ model performs well in “hot and high” conditions, which can reduce the useful load of older Hercules or similar transport aircraft by 50-60%.
The new C-130J-30 planes will be bracketed by India’s larger Ilyushin IL-76 jet transports on the high end, and on the lower end by twin-engine Antonov AN-32 turboprops. India’s interest in the Hercules is quite specific to the Special Forces at the moment; but the plane’s capacity for additional specialty operations like aerial refueling enhances those operations, and gives the IAF a number of additional employment options. The AN-32s are currently undergoing mid-life refurbishment, and a joint project with Russia’s Irkut looks set to develop a Hercules competitor in time for the AN-32’s replacement cycle. In the interim, however, India is fielding 11 C-130J-30s for its Special Forces…
Contracts & Key Events
2012 – 2014
2nd tranche bought; Crash.
July 18/14: +6. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta, GA receives a maximum $564.7 million contract modification to to fund 6 more India foreign military sales C-130J-30s, field service representatives and 3 years of post-delivery support after the first aircraft delivery. $50.9 million of this contract is committed immediately, and this brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $2.067 billion; but the contract itself applies to orders beyond India’s.
Work will be performed at Marietta, GA and is expected to be complete by April 30/20. Once all 6 planes are delivered, India’s fleet will rise to 11, given the March 2014 crash of KC3803. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/WLNNC at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract as India’s agent (FA8625-11-C-6597, PO 0273).
6 more C-130J-30s
April 23/14: Post-mortem. The excellent Shiv Aroor at Livefist sheds some light on the possible cause of KC3803’s crash. Short version – the trailing plane was too close and too low:
“The IAF’s former flight safety boss (and then AOC-in-C, Western Air Command) Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia tells me, “From the information available, there appears to have been a breach of flying discipline on two fronts. One, by the ill-fated aircraft, which may not have updated and compensated its flight path to accommodate wake and other turbulence during closely formated flight. And two, by the lead aircraft itself.”
Sources: Livefist, “Wake Turbulence, Flying Discipline Likely Doomed IAF C-130J”.
March 28/14: Crash. IAF C-130J-30 tail #KC 3803 hits a hillock during low-level flight training, and crashes in a riverbed 116 km west of Gwailor. Everyone dies, including the 2nd-in-command of the 77 ‘Veiled Vipers’ squadron, Wing Commander Prashant Joshi, 2 pilots, and a trainee.
The C-130 J was reportedly part of a 2-plane formation that had taken off from Agra. Sources: The Indian Express, “5 officers killed as IAF’s new showpiece Super Hercules crashes near Gwalior”.
Jan 16/13: Engines. Rolls Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, IN receives a $6.7 million contract modification for Power by the Hour support to the IAF’s C-130Js.
Work will be performed at Hindon Air Station in New Delhi, India, and is expected to be complete by Jan 30/13. The AFLCMC/WLKCB at Robins AFB, GA manages the contract on behalf of their FMS client (FA8504-07-D-0001-0501-09).
Aug 6/12: Industrial. The Hindu reports that the offset program has begun to bear fruit, with some components now made in India:
“The latest feather in the Tata cap is that certain critical components for the C-130 are now being ‘Made in India’… on the outskirts of Hyderabad. That is the promise held out by Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Ltd., (TLMAL), a joint venture between Tata Advanced Systems and Lockheed Martin. The Friday gone by was a landmark day with TLMAL delivering the first C-130 Center Wing Box (CWB) to Lockheed.”
2009 – 2011
India takes delivery of all 6, and requests another 6; What equipment won’t India receive?
(click to view video)
Dec 23/11: Training. Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA receives a $38.4 million firm-fixed-price contract “for the government’s intent to award a contract modification to support the C-130J India FMS Program.” The modification includes a weapon systems trainer (WST) project to include Phase I and II configuration, associated administration costs, air shipment, spares and support equipment, on-site training, and a visual display system.
Work will be performed in Marietta, GA; Orlando, FL; and Tampa, FL, and is expected to be complete by Dec 19/12. The ASC/WLNNC at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract, as India’s agent (FA8625-06-6456, PO 0289).
Dec 15/11: #6 delivered. India’s final ordered C-130J-30 leaves Marietta, GA, for delivery to India. Lockheed Martin: “This aircraft, like its five predecessors, was delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.”
Dec 12/11: Costs. Indian defense minister Antony answers a Parliamentary question, and confirms key details about India’s first 6 C-130J-30s:
“Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) have been signed with the Government of the United States (USG) for the procurement of ten C-17 Globemaster aircraft as well as six C-130J aircraft along with associated equipment for the Indian Air Force (IAF) The estimated cost of the procurement of the C-17 aircraft is US $ 4.116 billion while the cost of the procurement of the C-130-J 30 aircraft is US $ 962.4 million… The induction of the C-130 J30 aircraft commenced in February 2011 and five aircraft have been inducted into the IAF so far. The sixth aircraft is planned for induction by end of December 2011.”
Dec 7/11: Indian defense minister Antony answers a Parliamentary question by saying that:
“Government has not inked any follow-on deal for acquiring nine additional C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft with the US. However, a Letter of Request (LoR) has been issued to the U.S. Government for the procurement of the additional aircraft… The cost of the procurements will be known once the Contracts are finalised and signed.”
This may have been a simple mistake, as the DSCA announcement was for 6, in line with plans announced some time ago.
Oct 27/11: The US DSCA announces India’s official request to buy up to 6 more C-130Js, which would bring its fleet to 12. The previous May 25/07 request also asked for C-130J USAF baseline aircraft, but the order involved stretched C-130J-30s. It remains to be seen whether India will order more stretched C-130J-30s (likely), or 6 of the smaller C-130Js.
The estimated cost is up to $1.2 billion, and the prime contractors would be Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA, and Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis, IN. Offset agreements associated with this proposed sale are expected, but will be defined in negotiations. Implementation may require the assignment of ten U.S. Government and contractor representatives in India for a period of up to 3 years. India would get:
* 6 C-130J family planes with USAF baseline equipment, including 24 Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines
* 6 spare AE 2100-D3 turboprop engines
* 8 AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III surveillance and targeting turrets with Special Operations Suites (2 are spares)
* 8 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (2 are spares)
* 8 AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (2 are spares)
* 8 AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (2 are spares)
* 3200 flare cartridges
* 8 AN/ARC-210 Radios (Non-COMSEC; vid. Oct 6/10 entry)
The sale could also include general spare and repair parts, configuration updates, communications security (COMSEC) equipment and radios, integration studies, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, technical services, personnel training and training equipment, foreign liaison office support, Field Service Representatives’ services, and other U.S. Government and contractor support. US DSCA [PDF] | IBN Live | Times of India.
DSCA request: 6 more
Sept 8/11: #5 delivered. India’s 5th C-130J-30 Super Hercules leaves the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, GA ahead of schedule, en route to Air Force Station Hindan in India. India’s 6th C-130J will be delivered in October 2011. Lockheed Martin.
June 15/11: #3-4 delivered. India’s 3rd and 4th C-130J-30 Super Hercules leave the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, GA, en route to Air Force Station Hindan in India. Lockheed Martin says that:
“The remaining two C-130Js on order will be delivered later this summer. Equipped with an Infrared Detection Set, the aircraft can perform precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions. Self-protection systems and other features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defense environments. The aircraft also is equipped with air-to-air receiver refueling capability for extended range operations.”
India’s airlift is getting a wide-ranging boost over the next couple of years, as refurbished An-32REs begin re-entering service, and its new Boeing C-17s start arriving.
March 29/11: Support. Rolls Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, IN receives an $8.5 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide spares, fuser, and program management support for the Indian Air Force to support the arrival of their new C-130J fleet. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN, and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins AFB, GA manages the contract (FA8504-07-D-0001-0501).
Feb 5/11: Induction. The 1st Indian C-130J with Special Forces enhancements is inducted in a special ceremony at Air Force Station Hindon, India. There’s still work to do, however. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik says of the Amerivcan communications and security systems that were left out: “We have our own communication system and yes, we will be integrating them on the aircraft. They are already being made and they will be put on the aircraft.” Lockheed Martin | Andrha News | MSN India.
India inducts C-130J-30
Dec 17/10: #1 delivered. India’s 1st C-130J is formally delivered in a ceremony at Marietta, GA. India’s Economic Times.
Oct 6/10: Exclusions. Indian defense journalist Shiv Aroor lists the technologies that he says will not be in India’s C-130J-30 special forces aircraft, as a result of India’s refusal to sign the USA’s CISMOA End-User Monitoring agreement: AN/ARC-222 SINCGARS radios, KV-119 IFF Digital Transponder (Mode 4 Crypto Applique), TACTERM / ANDVT Secure Voice (HF) Terminal, VINSON KY-58 Secure Voice (UHF/VHF) Module, and no SINCGARS/crypto features in the embedded AN/ARC-210v SATCOM Transceiver.
Oct 5/10: The 1st of 6 Indian C-130J-30 special forces aircraft takes flight from Lockheed Martin’s plant and airfield in Marietta, GA. Lockheed Martin.
June 9/10: Lockheed Martin announces that India’s first 3 aircraft have taken the final positions on Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Marietta, GA. First aircraft arrival in India is scheduled for February 2011.
Aug 24/09: Support. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Marietta, GA receives a $30.2 million modified contract to purchase the quick engine change assemblies for American C/KC/BC/HC/MC-130J aircraft, and Foreign Military Sale aircraft for Norway and India.
“At this time $31,972,726 has been obligated.” The US Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages this contract (FA8625-06-C-6456).
Aug 5/09: Sensors. FLIR Systems announces a $7.2 million foreign military sale to the Indian Air force to equip its new Hercules aircraft with FLIR’s Star SAFIRE III infrared multi-sensor surveillance systems, which include laser ranging/pointing and geolocation, but not laser targeting. FLIR Systems will also provide training and related services.
Numbers were not mentioned, but see the DSCA request below, which lists up to 8 sets (6 + 2 spares). Work on this order will be performed at FLIR’s facility in Wilsonville, OR, and deliveries are expected to be complete by 2011.
US Coast Guard C-130Js will also carry Star SAFIRE IIIs. This FMS order represents the first fixed-wing sale of FLIR Systems products to the Indian Ministry of Defense, but ongoing projects in areas like maritime security (RUAG Dornier Do-228NG) etc. may create other opportunities for FLIR.
2006 – 2008
India requests 6 planes, then buys them.
July 15/08: HC/MC-130J. Lockheed Martin holds a briefing at the Farnborough International Airshow 2008 concerning its new HC-130J and MC-130J Special Forces configurations, which are unveiled after its work has begun on India’s order. In addition, Lockheed Martin discussed 3 new technologies that will become part of all future C-130Js: (1) a Global Digital Map Unit built by Israel’s Elbit Systems; (2) a TacView Portable Mission Display for mission planning and in-flight replanning, built by Canada’s CMC, who recently finished a delivery to US AFSOC for its AC-130H/U gunships; and CMC’s InegriFlight commercial GPS Landing System Sensor Unit, to give the planes an Instrument Flight Rules and civil-certified Global Navigational Satellite System. Lockheed Martin release | Frontier India | CMC Electronics | Flight International re: TacView | Flight International re: ILA Berlin 08 briefing, in May.
March 28/08: Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems of Marietta, GA receives a modified contract for $595.8 million. This is an unfinalized contract for 6 Indian Foreign Military Sales (FMS) C-130J aircraft pursuant to Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) IN-D-SAA. In addition to aircraft, this contract includes C-130J Spares, Support Equipment, Logistics Support, and Development/Integration of Indian-unique capabilities.
At this time, 50% of the contract’s value to date ($297.9 million) has been committed. The rest will follow in stages, while a final price is negotiated. Wright-Patterson AFB, OH handles the contract on India’s behalf (FA8625-06-C-6456 PO 0044).
March 17/08: India’s MoD:
“The Government has signed a Letter of Offer & Acceptance with the US Government for the procurement of six C-130J-30 aircraft for the Indian Air Force. The estimated value of the aircraft along with associated ground support equipment, ground handling equipment and the role equipment is 962,454,677 USD. The delivery of these aircraft is likely to be completed by December 2011.”
Contract: 6 C-130J-30s
Feb 27/08: C-130J-30s. An Indian MoD release confirms that the planes in question will be C-130J-30s.
Feb 6/08: Indian newspapers report that the deal for C-130J aircraft has been signed already, and are beginning to leak details. Early indications are that India has bought 6 C-130J-30 stretched versions, with an option for 6 more, and that Lockheed Martin has agreed to follow India’s 30% industrial offsets rule. American Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force Bruce Lemkin, who handles U.S. Air Force international affairs, also confirmed a deal to Reuters, but gave fewer specifics.
The Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal FH Major, told the India Strategic website and defence magazine that a Letter of Agreement (LAO) was signed on Jan 30/08 in a quiet New Delhi ceremony. It covers 6 aircraft, plus infrastructure, spares and spare engines, related equipment, and operational and maintenance training – essentially, the package outlined in the DSCA release below. He added that “India has retained options to buy six more of these aircraft for its special forces for combined army-air force operations,” and said that “It would be a couple of metres longer than the standard Hercules aircraft, and equipped with equipment for night and battle zone operations.”
He is almost certainly describing the C-130J-30 stretched version, which is 15 feet longer than the C-130J. The DSCA’s noted package of communications equipment, ground collision avoidance and other night operations features, and electronic countermeasures would make India’s C-130J-30s the most advanced transports in their fleet by a wide margin.
Finally, Indian law requires that large defense deals offer 30% value in industrial offsets for deals over Rs 300 crore (3 billion rupees). This deal is over 10 times that limit, and details of how Lockheed Martin will go about fulfilling the offset obligation are currently being negotiated. The process of fulfilling those obligations will give Lockheed a strong web of existing Indian relationships to draw upon in further Hercules deals, however, and will also help lay a foundation for the $10 billion MMRCA fighter program’s 50% offset requirement, if the firm’s offer of its F-16 should win. The Hindu | The Hindustan Times | Reuters.
Feb 1/08: Voice of America reports that:
“Defense Ministry officials [claim that] India’s security cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recently approved a deal to buy six Hercules transport planes from the United States. The contract for the C-130J planes is expected to be signed next month. The deal will be worth more than $1 billion.”
Nov 26/07: Sales to India typically take a very long time. Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri KV Patel and Shri BK Tripathy in Lok Sabha:
“The Government is processing a proposal for procurement of C-130J transport aircraft for the Air Force. No contract has been concluded for the procurement as yet. There is also a proposal for joint development of a Medium Transport Aircraft by India and Russia.”
He’s referring to the MRTA project, which won’t be ready until at least 2015. While Indian procurement officials have been known to shilly-shally for that long, their special forces probably have the need level and clout required to push the C-130J sale through.
May 25/07: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notifies Congress [PDF format] of India’s request for 6 C-130J Aircraft in Special Forces configuration, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.059 billion, and the request includes:
* 6 Lockheed Martin C-130J United States Air Force (USAF) baseline aircraft including USAF baseline equipment
* 4 Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 spare engines
* 8 AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (2 are spares)
* 8 AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (2 are spares)
* 8 AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (2 are spares)
* 8 AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III Special Operations Suites (2 are spares)
* 8 ALQ-211 Suite of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures (2 are spares)
* 2 spare AN/ARC-210 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS)
* 8 spare Secure Voice Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency Radios
* 4 spare Secure Voice High Frequency Radios
* 3 spare AN/AAR-222 SINCGARS and Key Gen (KV-10) Systems
* 1 KIV-119 Non-standard Communication/COMSEC equipment
* 2 ARC-210 Non-standard Communication/COMSEC equipment
Also included are spare and repair parts, configuration updates, communications security equipment and radios, integration studies, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, technical services, personnel training and training equipment, foreign liaison office support, Field Service Representatives’ services, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of 10 each U.S. Government and contractor representatives in India for a periodic of up to 2 weeks.
The principal contractors will be: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX and Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis, IN. Offset agreements associated with this proposed sale are expected per India’s rules covering foreign defense purchases, but they will be defined in negotiations. Note that Rolls Royce is already gearing up operations in India, and Lockheed Martin has offered to perform extensive F-16 assembly work in India if it should win the $6-10 billion MRCA fighter competition. DSCA adds that:
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important partner and to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia. India and the United States are forging an important strategic partnership. The proposed sale will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S. by providing the Indian Government with a credible special operations airlift capability that will deter aggression in the region, provide humanitarian airlift capability and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces in coalition operations.”
DSCA request: 6 C-130Js
Dec 14/06: U.S. Air Force officials and others confirm delivery of an Indian Defence Ministry request for details of a possible purchase of 6 C-130Js, to the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. Per standard procedure, the embassy has forwarded it to the U.S. Air Force’s office of international affairs. See India Defence coverage.
DID Brief: May 5/06
Lockheed sources initially gave a figure of 12-13 aircraft as the number under discussion, which would take over the special forces role and supplement India’s current fleet of 100 or so medium lift twin-turboprop AN-32 “Sutlej” aircraft. No word on whether the Hercs in question would be C-130Js with minor customizations, or a J variant of the heavily-modified and much more expensive MC-130 “Combat Talon” special forces aircraft. India’s emerging Air Force philosophy and terrorism threat profiles would seem to suggest the MC-130 as the best doctrinal fit, while budgetary constraints (the MC-130H lists as $155 million in FY 2001 dollars, and an MC-130J Combat Talon III would cost more) would suggest the C-130J route.
India is currently planning a major upgrade of its AN-32 fleet as well as its 25-30 IL-76 Gajraj strategic transport aircraft, in order to extend their life by 10-20 years. Lockheed Martin is also offering India the $60-80 million C-130J Hercules as a fuller AN-32 replacement option.
Will India’s potential purchase represent a mere stopgap until the $100-120 million A400M begins to hit the market around 2010, and creates a major competition for India’s next-generation tactical airlifter? Will a deal be done around an indigenous project instead, something that India often prefers despite the project failures and increased costs common to such projects in its history [DID: subsequently done with Irkut, to create a similar-sized, jet-powered MRTA]? Or is a C-130J order a potential door-opener for a much larger Lockheed order, one that can be delivered sooner to a customer who decides that it would rather have more aircraft available, and doesn’t need more than 20 tons of lift capacity?
* DID – C-17s for India. Provides heavy airlift of up to 84 (short) tons, far above the C-130J-30s’ 22 ton capabilities.
* DID – MRTA: HAL and Irkut’s Joint Tactical Transport Project. Will be a twin-jet C-130J competitor, but the C-130J is carving out a strong special forces niche, and India needs planes now.
* DID – India Refurbishing its AN-32 Transport Fleet. Light tactical transports, one level below the C-130J-30s.