Washington: The US Defense Department announced the award of a $596 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp at the end of last week, as part of a billion dollar contract for the supply of six stretched version C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft to India. India is buying the aircraft through the US government's foreign military sales programme.
The Lockheed C-130 Super Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, which is the main tactical airlifter for many military forces around the world. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 50 nations.
In December 2006, the C-130 became the fourth aircraft after the English Electric Canberra in May 2001, the B-52 Stratofortress in January 2005 and the Tupolev Tu-95 in January 2006 to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case the United States Air Force.
The C-130 remains in production as the updated C-130J Super Hercules (See: US to deliver six C-130J-30 Hercules transporters to Indian Air Force by 2011)
Capable of short takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship, and for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling and aerial firefighting.
The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history.