C-130Js arrive in Bengal IAF station
While the stand-off between China and India continues at the Sikkim- Bhutan-Tibetan tri-junction of Doklam, the Air Force station at Panagarh in Bardhaman district got its first set of multi-skilled transport aircraft C-130J Super Hercules manufactured by Lockheed Martin of the United States.
Two C-130J have arrived very recently, while the station — named after Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh — is awaiting the arrival of four more under a month. The six medium-lift capability C-130J will complete the first squadron of six such aircraft in eastern India.
Senior Defence Ministry officials, however, did not want to connect the arrival of the aircraft with the Doklam stand-off and rather described it as “fruition of an old plan.”
Many advantages ::
The giant C-130J Super Hercules is described as one of the finest transport aircraft which can perform many duties simultaneously, according to various international aircraft reviews. The fuel-efficient aircraft can carry a load of up to 40 tonnes; can move faster and provide higher crew comfort compared to Ilyushin-76 [I L 76] of Russia, which was used by the Air Force for a long time. While I L 76 could also carry a load of 40 tonnes, it was a “fuel guzzler”, said a senior Army official.
C-130J will be used by the Special Forces and a division of the Mountain Strike Corps, recently raised by the Indian Army. The Corps has two divisions, instead of the usual three, with a strength of about 80,000 personnel. One of the divisions will be stationed at the Panagarh station once it is fully raised. The first squadron of C-130J was stationed at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad and performed its first landing exercise in 2013 at the Daulat Beg Oldi military base in Ladakh, adjacent to the Chinese border.
‘Fruition of old plan’ ::
Referring to the positioning of the first squadron at Hindon, a senior Defence Ministry official insisted that it had “nothing to do with the stand-off in Doklam.” “When the first batch of six C-130J came to the country, it was envisaged that a second squadron would also come. This is the fruition of an old plan,” he said.
C-130J Super Hercules can perform multiple duties, officials indicated. It can land on unpaved surfaces; para-drop special forces — known for their speed and stealth — and move faster fast with equipment and goods. It can return quickly to the base to dispatch the next team. Its movement and manoeuvrability is perhaps the reason why the U.S. forces used the transport aircraft extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, a controversy arose in 2013 when fake Chinese microchips were discovered in the cockpit of the aircraft.