#DefenseDiaries: C-130J Super Hercules, IAF's versatile workhorse
Recently, the Indian Air Force landed its Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport plane on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway. This week, another C-130J aircraft took off with a contingent of IAF Garud commandoes to participate in a multilateral military-exercise in Israel. The aircraft has emerged as a robustly dependable IAF workhorse to transport disaster relief, troops, and supplies, wherever needed. Let's know more about it.
There's no mission the C-130 can't do
The C-130 first flew in 1954 and was developed for the US military for a transport role. Its design is so robust and versatile that it's been used to refuel fighter jets, drop bombs, para-drop soldiers, retrieve satellites in midair and more. It has flown in conflict zones from Vietnam to Afghanistan, on both poles, the Himalayas and landed on unpaved runways and beaches.
C-130 is the longest produced military aircraft in history
Since its introduction, over 2,500 C-130s in 70 different variants have been ordered by or delivered to operators in 63 countries. "The C-130 has the longest, continuous military aircraft production run in history," its manufacturer Lockheed Martin claims.
India's tryst with the C-130J
India first ordered six C-130J Super Hercules planes in 2008 at a cost of $1 billion which were delivered and stationed at the Hindon airbase in UP. It subsequently ordered six additional C-130s which are now being inducted and stationed at Arjan Singh Airbase in Panagarh, West Bengal. Last year, one IAF C-130 crashed during a low-level sortie, killing five personnel onboard.
Why the IAF loves the C-130?
In 2013, the IAF had landed a C-130J at one of the world's highest landing ground in Daulat Beg Oldie, northern Ladakh. The same year, the aircraft led supply ran for relief materials in flood-hit northern India. In 2014, it transported rescued civilians and humanitarian supplies during the Kashmir floods. In 2016, the planes were even used to ferry cash post demonetization.
C-130 will play "very important role" in future conflict
Last month, Air Vice Marshal Vikram Singh said the "state-of-the-art" C-130 Super Hercules "with its tactical airlift and airdrop capabilities is a huge jump" for the IAF. "In any future conflict, it will play a very important role," he added. The six C-130s being deployed in Panagarh will enhance the mobility of Indian Army's Mountain Strike Corps along the Sino-Indian border.