IAF-Lockheed pact on cargo aircraft

Written by Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi, Sep 27 | Updated: Sep 28 2007, 04:51am hrs
A letter of offer and acceptance for the $ 1 billion deal for six military transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to be signed between India and the US based defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin by year end.

Talking to FE, Rick Kirkland, president South Asia, Lockheed Martin Corporation, said, We require necessary licence from the US government for sale of the non-combat aircraft of six to eight C-130Js. Infact, next month a high-level team would be visiting India to understand the requirements of the IAF for the cargo machine. Deliveries of the aircraft would start 30 months after the contract was signedfirst deliveries would be by 2011, Kirland said.

The IAF had sought information on what would be its first US military aircraft, six Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules cargo planes, in 2006. The four-engine turboprop C-130, built by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp., is the U.S. Air Forces workhorse cargo and personnel transport aircraft.

The J is its latest model. The C-130J, used by the US Air Force in Iraq, is capable of short take-offs and landings from unprepared runways. The price per aircraft may top $70 million, depending on the configuration.

As all sales are subject to US Congress approval, Lockheed Martin has got the clearance to sell this aircraft to India.

Responding to a question on India's decision to raise the offset limit in purchase of the 126 new fighters to 50%, he said that his company was confident of meeting this target. We have met offset requirements totalling $40 billion in 37 countries, he said. He also said Lockheed was ready to support IAFs lifecycle needs and for technology transfer.

Fighting falcons are already being produced in five countries, he emphasised.

The company is looking at business opportunities worth between $12 billion and $15 billion in India during the next 10 to 15 years.

The opportunities are in areas as diverse as Defence, systems (avionics) that integrate the managing of sea-based platforms, airport traffic management systems and information technology.