New Delhi/Washington: India has asked the United States for another six Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft under a government-to-government foreign military sales (FMS) deal.
The request was conveyed recently, and in Washington, the Department of Defence (DoD) notified the US Congress Oct 27 for approval as mandated by law for any FMS delivery of weapon systems. The proposal is likely to be cleared within a month as both the Democratic and Republican parties have extended bipartisan support to strengthening India-US relations.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) in an interview that he expected a formal agreement with the US by January 2012.
He also disclosed that five of the six C-130Js ordered in 2008 had already been received, on or before scheduled delivery time, and the last and sixth was expected before November 11 in less than two weeks time.
The first aircraft arrived in February 2011, and pilot training was completed before that.
According to the DoD notification, issued by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) which negotiates and executes military sales, the deal could be around $1.2 billion, covering six aircraft with six spare engines, eight AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (two of them spares), eight AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (two of them spares), eight AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (two of them spares), eight AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III Special Operations Suites (two of them spares), eight ARC-210 Radios (Non-COMSEC), and 3,200 Flare Cartridges.
Capable of short takeoff and landing from football size unpaved grounds or grassy fields, each aircraft is powered by four Royce AE 2100D3 engines.
The first six aircraft were acquired for $1.1 billion, inclusive of training, a support package, spares, some special equipment and also covered 30 per cent offset investment back into India. Under that, Lockheed Martin has set up an advanced simulator at IAF's Hindon airbase, where the C 130Js are located.
The second batch would be located at Charbatia in Orissa to serve the country's northeastern region and the Andaman and Nicobar island territories.
According to Browne, as the second batch of the aircraft is being purchased under the options clause in the 2008 contract, the basic price should be the same. There could some equipment variations or additional requirements though. Offset details could also vary.
The price indicated by DSCA is the maximum possible, including also the 3.8 per cent administrative fee it charges on all FMS deals from all the countries that buy US equipment. According to its notification, implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of 10 US government and contractor representatives in India for a period of up to three years besides periodic visits.
Under an FMS deal, the IAF, through the defence ministry, would place an order with the US Air Force, and DSCA would arrange for Lockheed Martin to deliver the aircraft according to the required specifications within an agreed delivery time.
DSCA said that the prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Georgia, and Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana. Offset agreements associated with this proposed sale are expected, but at this time the specific agreements are undetermined and will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractors.
It may be noted that all FMS deals are done with clearance from the US State Department, and the DSCA notification pointed out: "There will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
A notification to the Congress also means that it is part of legal procedures and does not mean that the sale has been concluded.
Under the Indian system, the acquisition for another six aircraft, or more later, would need no tender but only procedural clearance from the defence ministry and then the government for monetary allocations.