The Indian Air Force has been using the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to great effect for military usage, in the process several milestones are getting created for the iconic plane manufactured by US giant Lockheed Martin.
The IAF, On May 3, flew a pair of C-130 J from Srinagar in the northern part of the country to Trivandrum the southern part of the country. It was 10 hour 10 minute marathon non-stop flight without refueling covering 5004 kilometres and it carried a three tonne load. The distance between the two cities is some 3669 kms, however, the sortie took detours to fly over major cities far-away from the what would be a normal route.
The C-130J used by India has ‘conveniences’ or rest-room for pilots for such long haul flights.
The flight and its schedule was part of the country-wide appreciation of those fighting the Corona virus, Covid-19. India conducted several fly past by fighter jets and helicopters showered flower petals over hospitals.
A flight longer than this was done in 2017
The Sunday sortie is not the longest. In 2017 the IAF did a 13 hour 31 minute sortie. The official twitter handle had then tweeted claiming that to be a record for the C-130-J in terms of longest flights non-stop and without refueling. In 2011 when India was getting deliveries of the plane, two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft successfully flew non-stop for 9 hours and 45 minutes from Rome in Italy to Muscat in Oman in June 2011.
Why the C-130J for India.
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. Ideal for short runways. It is an upgarded version of the Lockheed Martin’s iconic C-130 series of military planes with new engines, flight deck, and other systems.
The first of the C-130-J was inducted in India 2011. The planes have been on some of the most daring mission including landing at Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh at an altitude of 16,614 feet and in April 2013. It has been used for landing of troops on a mud-paved strip during the exercise ‘live wire’ in the deserts. The plane carrying fuel was once landed at Dharasu, a small strip in Uttarakhand.
The C-130-J can fly in all weather conditions, including airdrops and landings on unprepared or semi-prepared surfaces. It can take off in only 1,093 meters with a gross take-off weight and can land in mere 427 meters. This flexible take-off and landing capability is of importance in India to land troops at short notice. It can carry 64 fully equipped troops. It means para-troopers can be air drooped or quickly relocated besides a few BMP’s can be moved.
The plane is one of the most sturdy one with more than a million flying hours. It can be used for unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, alongside duties such as gunship for aerial assaults, search and rescue mission, maritime patrolling.
India has based a part of its fleet in eastern India and is part of the Mountain Strike Corps. The first batch had cost US $ 1.1 Billion including, training, setting up of the support infrastructure, spares and spare engines. The C-130-J are connected to IAF’s AF-Net and Indian satellites.