The Indian Air Force (IAF) has managed to contract six aircraft from the US at a price of $1 billion and it will be used by the Special Forces in the IAF. However, India’s refusal to sign the Communications Inter-Operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) will mean that the aircraft will be delivered sans military grade secure equipment.
In addition, the IAF is also contracting another ten heavy strategic airlifters for an estimated $3 billion from US and the airlifters will not have the military grade security equipment since the CISMOA is not signed by India.
As for the six C-130 J Super Hercules that India has already contracted for in 2007, the first of the C-130 J will be delivered by January 2011. The six C-130 J Super Hercules are being contracted through Lockheed Martin under the foreign military route (FMS) with the US.
The US has clarified that no equipment that uses encryption, like military-grade global positioning systems (GPS), will be supplied with the C-130 J or any other aircraft to India if it does not comply with CISMOA. In fact, the technology will be denied to India in the proposed sale of the C-17 Globemaster III from Boeing of US.
As for the IAF, it seems content that it will have a platform the way it needs and then it can modify it. Although the desired level of security will be missing, the IAF is getting the configuration it wants. The flexible design of the Super Hercules enables it to be configured for many different missions, allowing for one aircraft to perform the role of many, including mid-air refuelling. A host of the special mission equipment added to the Super Hercules is removable, allowing it to quickly switch roles.
The C 130J is a special operations aircraft to land and take-off from a battle zone. It is capable of operating from rough dirt strips to drop or pick up men and material from hostile areas. It is equipped with missile defence systems and equipped with an infrared detection set (IDS). This will be the first time the IAF will be provided with an ability to conduct precision low-level flying operations, airdrops and landings in blackout conditions. The Hercules is a four-engine turbo-prop “tactical airlifter” with a payload capacity of 20 tonnes or about 120 fully-equipped airborne troops capable of landing on dirt strips and with short take-off and landing capability. It can be used to ferry troops and cargo for airborne assault.
According to sources, the Indian Coast Guard and the Border Security Force will also be receiving two Hercules aircraft each. The Hercules aircraft will be based at Hindon, East of Delhi, where the IAF base is being revamped.