December 30, 2013: The Indian Government has finally signed on the dotted line for six more Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules special mission transport aircraft. The six planes, which will begin delivery in 36 months, will be based at Panagarh in West Bengal.
As earlier reported by SP's, it has taken the government over two years to process the follow-on order, which has been in the pipeline since the first deal was signed. For IAF Chief N.A.K. Browne, the deal going through just days before he retires is fortuitous, given that it was under his stewardship that deliveries of the aircraft commenced. In the past, Brown has revealed that the six new aircraft will come with minor modifications, though it is not clear at this time what these are. Overall configuration of the aircraft will be identical to the first six, deployed with 77 Squadron Veiled Vipers at the Hindon Air Force Station. The foreign military sales (FMS) deal, worth just under $1.1 billion will give the IAF a fleet of 12 aircraft, though Lockheed-Martin has internally assessed an IAF requirement of at least 30 aircraft. The company is said to be working on making another offer for more aircraft to supplement the units in the current and future squadron.