The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules that is being delivered to the Indian Air Force is special in many ways. Not only is the C-130J the most advanced airlifter ever built, but the version being built for India sets a new standard for both capability and programme performance.
The C-130Js for India are being delivered under a US Government Foreign Military Sales programme. Since it began, the programme has received praise from all levels as it has delivered aircraft well ahead of schedule and significantly below budget. The teamwork between the US Government, the Indian Government and Lockheed Martin is an outstanding example of both political and military cooperation. The programme begins a new enduring partnership between Lockheed Martin and India, which has the fourth largest air force in the world. Discussions are underway for the potential acquisition by India of additional C-130Js.
This is India’s first experience with the C-130 and the package being provided by the US Government is comprehensive. The contract includes six aircraft, training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spares, ground support and test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets and a team of technical specialists who will be based in India during a three year initial support period. Also included in the package is-India-unique operational equipment designed to increase Special Operations capabilities. India’s new airlift fleet will be based at Hindon Air Station.
The Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules is a highly integrated and sophisticated configuration primarily designed to support India’s special operations requirement. 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 defence environments. The aircraft also is equipped with air-to-air receiver refuelling capability for extended range operations.
The C-130J is ideally suited to India’s mission environment, which often involves operating out of austere, highelevation airstrips in hot conditions. The C-130J is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six-bladed props that provide the aircraft with a great deal of power. The C-130J has been operated for the past several years in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan (in conditions similar to India) and performed exceptionally well.
The C-130J combines the latest in aerospace technology with a rugged airframe design, resulting in an aircraft that gives an operator more capability with greater operational efficiency. The C-130J’s flexibility for range, payload and missions is unmatched by any other aircraft in production or planned. With a payload range capability of over 4,000 nautical miles — coupled with the ability to land on a 2,000 foot dirt strip high up in the mountains in hot temperatures — the C-130J is a proven asset that has provided critical support to the global war on terror.
The C-130J is not just a cargo transport – its range of missions includes special operations, aerial refuelling, search and rescue, paradrop, electronic surveillance and even weather reconnaissance. The high level of systems capability means that even a C-130J in standard configuration is a sophisticated platform capable of missions far in excess of any earlier model C-130, regardless of how much the legacy aircraft has been modified. A good example of this is in the special operations role, where a C-130J has greater mission capability than any special operations aircraft currently flying. When upgraded with other systems and capabilities, the C-130J allows the Indian Air Force to operate the aircraft autonomously — day or night and in all weather — anywhere it needs to go.
The net effect of these improvements is enhanced performance of the aircraft, and greater reliability of the systems and components. For instance, when compared with earlier C-130 models, the C-130J provides 40 per cent greater range, 40 per cent higher cruising ceiling, 50 per cent decrease in time-to-climb, 21 per cent increase in maximum speed and 41 per cent decrease in maximum effort takeoff run.
A key to the C-130J’s increased performance is the new propulsion system. Four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 engines (each flat rated at 4,591 shaft horsepower) generate 29 per cent more thrust, although they are 15 per cent more fuel efficient. An all-composite six-blade Dowty Aerospace R391 propeller system is lighter and has fewer moving parts than previous Hercules propellers. Engines are precisely controlled by a full authority digital electronic control.
The heart of the new Super Hercules advanced technology is its modern flight station with multi-function, LCD screen for aircraft flight control, operating, and navigation systems. In addition to the four displays on the instrument panel, pilots use holographic head-up displays as primary flight instruments, a precedent among military transports.