NEW DELHI, JAN 13 (PTI)
American armament major Lockheed Martin is bidding to make its first major defence sale to India by offering medium capacity transport aircraft C-130J
as a fast-reaction carrier for special forces.
The company wants to enter the Indian market with the sale of a squadron of these highly manoevreable aircraft, whcih have the capability to fly
without navigational aids and operate from short and unprepared runways.
"We have held several rounds of talks with Indian officials for the sale of eight to ten of these aircraft which are ideal for counter-terrorist
operations, specially to counter hijacks", Michael N Kelley, a senior company official told PTI.
The American company, which will be largest US exhibitor at the forthcoming Aero India show in Bangalore, is also making a bid to sell its new
anti-submarine MH-60R helicopters and the latest version of its long-range surveillance aircraft P3C-Orions.
Kelley said besides bidding for an immediate sale of the C-130J aircraft for special forces, the company was also in serious negotiations for Indian
Air Force's long-term medium haul transport aircraft contract with the air force's mainstay Russian-made AN-32 aircraft being phased out by 2014.
He said the C-130J being offered to the special forces had the capability to fly undetected and had two versions with the basic one capable of
carrying 92 troops and the stretched version 128 men.
The AN-32s are the mainstay of IAF's transport fleet with more than a hundred of them in service and the Defence Ministry is already looking into
options for their replacements even while carrying out mid-life upgradation of these aircraft. The AN-32s have a lift-capacity of 7.5 tonnes, while
the American C-130J has a capability to lift 20 tonnes and its smaller version C-27J boasting a ten tonne payload.
Kelley said that the C-130J aircraft had entered service only in 1996, with the first delivery being made to the Royal Air Force of Britain.
On the P3C-Orions, the sale of which has come under clout after US announced re-opening deliveries of naval surveillance aircraft to Pakistan, the
Lockheed Martin official said India and the United States were only negotiating at government to government level for the purchase of these
He said the US Navy had now offered to sell the upgraded P3C (AIP), the latest version, to the Indian Navy and that his company would be involved in
upgradation of the Orions.
On the recent comment of the new IAF chief that the US firm was also being considered for the contract for cquisition of 126 multi-role fighters,
Kelley said his company was "very keen to offer" its largest worldwide selling F-16 Fighting Falcons with a technology transfer clause.
"This offer has to be essentially a government to government deal as required by the US law", he said.
Kelly said Lockheed Martin was trying to showcase its C-130J and the ship-based MH-60R helicopter at the Bangalore air show.