NEW DELHI (Agencies): Lockheed Martin, the renowned US defense giant responsible for cutting-edge stealth fighters like the F-35 and F-22, is exploring the possibility of establishing an assembly line for the special operations aircraft C-130J Super Hercules in India. This move comes as the Indian Air Force (IAF) seeks to replace its aging fleet of upgraded Russian An-32 transport aircraft.

Initially, the IAF had planned to procure Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) through a joint developmental project with Russia. However, the deal fell through in 2016 due to disagreements over engine specifications and design. Now, Lockheed Martin is vying for the MTA contract alongside other contenders such as Brazilian firm Embraer Defense & Security and European Airbus Defense and Space.

Lockheed Martin holds an advantage because the C-130J is already part of the IAF’s fleet. The IAF currently operates 12 Super Hercules aircraft for tactical airlifting. The C-130J Super Hercules, introduced in 1999, boasts four turboprop engines and serves primarily as a military transport aircraft. It underwent a comprehensive upgrade, including new engines and a modernized flying deck.

Anthony G Frese, Vice President of Business Development (air mobility and maritime missions) at Lockheed Martin, stated that the MTA competition presents a significant opportunity to meet the IAF’s tactical airlift requirements. The company is actively exploring options for establishing a C-130J assembly line within India.

Lockheed Martin already collaborates with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), which serves as the global source for C-130J empennages (tail assemblies). Whether Lockheed Martin will partner with TASL again for the IAF’s tender remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Airbus has already joined forces with TASL to supply the IAF with C-295 transport aircraft.

The IAF aims to induct 40-80 new transport aircraft as part of India’s “Make in India” initiative. These aircraft are expected to have cargo capacities ranging from 18 to 30 tonnes. In the request for information, the IAF has asked foreign vendors to provide cost estimates for batches of 40, 60, and 80 aircraft. Notably, the C-390 can carry a payload of 26 tonnes, while the C-130J handles 20 tonnes, and the A-400 M manages 37 tonnes.

By Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »