Washington: The first of six Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports meant for the Indian Air Force will be handed over to the US Air Force for onward delivery to India on 16 December, ahead of its delivery in late January.
"The first C-130J for India will be formally delivered on December 16 at a ceremony in Marietta," Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
"Two will be flown to India in early 2011, while two more will arrive in early summer and the last two will be delivered in late summer of 2011," it said.
Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for south and central Asia, said on Wednesday that in conjunction with the purchase of six C-130J transport aircraft in 2008 the recent $4.1 billion C-17 Indian deal with Boeing will double US-India defence trade and provide the Indian Air Force a strategic airlift and humanitarian response capability that is unique to the region and emblematic of India's ambitions to play an increasingly global role.
"Once all the aircraft have been delivered, ladies and gentlemen, India will have the second largest C-17 fleet in the world behind the US - a highly visible manifestation of the US-India defence partnership," Blake said.
New Delhi's first US-built military aircraft is expected to make its public debut at the Aero India air show in Bangalore in early February, according to Abhay Paranjape, Lockheed's director, C-130J India.