The Indian Air Force (IAF) cannot wait to get its next six Lockheed-Martin C-130J Super Hercules medium transport aircraft, a deal that is in its final stages of confirmation. Coming as a boost to C-130J customers worldwide, the type soared past the one million flight hours mark this month. “Thirteen countries operating C-130Js, and members of Lockheed Martin’s Flight Operations and the US Government’s Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) teams contributed to this achievement. Hours were tracked beginning with the C-130J’s first flight on April 5, 1996, through the end of April 2013,” said Lockheed-Martin in a statement. George Shultz, Vice President and General Manager of C-130 programmes at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, said, “Not only is this milestone a testament to the capability of the C-130J Super Hercules, it’s also a reflection of the dedication displayed by crews and maintainers each day they fly a C-130J. Once again, the Super Hercules family continues to prove why the C-130J’s flexibility and versatility remains without equal.”
The C-130J has come in for high praise in Indian service, with the fleet deployed across theatres across missions and in all-weather conditions. The fleet’s availability has also proved to be a great reassurance to its pilots and operators. The type has been fielded in every major exercise since its induction, and continues to be the first response aircraft now for humanitarian relief missions.
Elsewhere, according to Lockheed-Martin’s statement, ”C-130Js currently are deployed in two combat theaters and are operating at a very high tempo efficiently and reliably. In non-combat—but equally harsh environments —C-130Js are often the first to support humanitarian missions such as search and rescue, aerial firefighting in the US, and delivering relief supplies after earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons and tsunamis around the world. Countries with C-130Js contributing to these flight hours include (in order of delivery) the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Canada, India, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Tunisia and Israel (now in flight test for a summer 2013 delivery). In the US, C-130Js are flown by the Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard units. Fifteen countries have chosen the C-130J as an airlifter of choice —including Kuwait and the Republic of Korea, which will join the fleet with C-130J deliveries in 2014.”