India orders FLIR surveillance equipment for C-130Js

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FLIR Systems has received a $7.2 million contract to equip the Indian air force's future fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports with AAQ-22 Star Safire III electro-optical/infrared sensors.

"The units will be installed on C-130J fixed-wing surveillance platforms in support of Indian ministry of defence airborne missions," says FLIR, which announced its order on 5 August. Deliveries will conclude by 2011, it says, with the sale also including training and other related services.

India is the first military buyer for the new-generation Hercules to include an EO/IR sensor suite in its order configuration, with its selection of the Star Safire III following that of the US Coast Guard, which is also buying the system for some of its HC-130J long-range surveillance aircraft.

Six C-130Js are on order for the Indian air force, with the service's first example scheduled to emerge at Lockheed's Marietta plant in Georgia during 2010.

FLIR has not revealed how many sensors will be supplied under its new production contract, but New Delhi's May 2007 Foreign Military Sales request for the C-130J deal listed a requirement for eight AAQ-22 systems, including two spares.

The US Special Operations Command's planned HC/MC-130Js and some upgraded transports for the US Marine Corps are also expected to receive EO/IR sensors in the future.