India receives first C-130J from breakthrough deal with US industry

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The Indian air force has received the first of six Lockheed Martin C-130Js ordered under New Dehli's first transaction with the US foreign military sale system.

Lockheed hailed the delivery event at the company's factory in Marietta, Georgia, as the beginning of a "new glorious, enduring partnership" with the world's fourth-largest air force.

 
© Lockheed Martin

The $1.2 billion C-130J deal, signed in late 2008, opened the door to India for US manufacturers after the Bush administration dropped sanctions over New Dehli's nuclear programme and allowed arms exports for the first time.

 
 © Lockheed Martin

Lockheed is now offering the F-16IN against five competitors to claim the Indian air force's pending medium, mult-irole combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract for 126 fighters. The rivals for the world's largest unclaimed fighter contract also include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, RSK MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.

All six competitors are waiting for the Indian air force to downselect to as many as three bidders, but the process has stretched out since evaluations were completed earlier this year.

Lockheed also has responded to an Indian navy request for information for a carrier-based fighter by submitting information about the short take-off and vertical landingF-35B.

The nation's first two C-130Js will arrive in India "early next year", Lockheed says, and the remaining four will arrive by late 2011. All six aircraft will be based at Hindon air base near New Dehli.