Marking a major change in defense acquisition policy, the Indian Air Force has agreed to buy six Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules through U.S. foreign military sales. The agreement was signed on January 31 and is worth around $1 billion.
India has bought its military aircraft from Russia and Europe for decades. The landmark C-130J deal signifies New Delhi’s newfound willingness to acquire major defense systems from the U.S., and is by far the largest order yet placed by India for American military equipment.
Two U.S. companies–Boeing and Lockheed Martin–are competing in the 126-aircraft MMRCA fighter contest, and both hope to answer India’s requirement for a new maritime patrol aircraft. The importance of the Indian market to the U.S. can be gauged by the fact that no fewer than 46 American firms are exhibiting at the Indian Defexpo exhibition this week, outnumbering their Russian competitors.
Training of Indian personnel for the C-130Js is scheduled to begin in 2010, with deliveries due in the following year.
Logistics support and spares supply is also included in the deal. The aircraft are to be fitted with advanced defensive systems for the special forces support role.