At an induction ceremony held in the airbase, Defence Minister AK Antony handed over the keys of the aircraft to the Commanding Officer of No. 77 Squadron, Group Captain Tejbir Singh, in the presence of Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, marking its formal induction.
Gp Capt Tejbir later conducted the Defence Minister and Air Chief around the aircraft. As the dignitaries proceeded inside, a section of IAF’s Special Forces ‘Garuds’ in combat suits jumped off from the rear of the aircraft in a symbolic display of their future integration with the squadron.
US Ambassador to India, Mr Timothy J Roemer, Chief of Staff (CoS) of USAF, General Norton A Schwartz, US Embassy officials, Lockheed Martin Corporation officials, manufactures of C-130 aircraft were among others present at the ceremony.
Adopting ‘Kill with Stealth’ as their motto, the tactical airlift aircraft will be able to undertake quick deployment of ‘Special Forces’ in all weather conditions, including airdrops and landings on unprepared or semi-prepared surface even in complete darkness. Capable of undertaking low-level air-to-air refueling to enhance its range, rapid forward basing of personnel and equipment in emergent situations would be one of its multifaceted roles.
The war time employability will include special air operations, airborne operations, air transported operations, air supply operations, air maintenance operations and casualty evacuation among other roles. The peacetime roles include operations and air maintenance in mountainous terrain in adverse circumstances, UN or multinational missions, humanitarian assistance including disaster relief and evacuation of Indian Diaspora during emergencies and crisis situations.
The Super Hercules inducted was flown to India by the pilots of the newly formed squadron from USA. IAF pilots and personnel underwent training at various USAF bases including at the Lockheed Martin complex in Atlanta. The second aircraft is expected in first week of March, this year.
The IAF aircraft will make its debut appearance at the Aero India-2011, at Bengaluru, from February 9-13.
Separately, in a written statement before the induction, U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said: “The sale of the C-130J to the IAF on-time and on-budget is exactly the type of win-win situation President Obama talked about during his historic visit to India last November. With the C-130J, Indian defense can bring their troops what they need, when they need it, and to wherever they are located. And the United States wins too with better defense cooperation with India, new markets opened, and the creation of American jobs. A strong defense relationship is a key component of the U.S.-India strategic partnership. The sale of six C-130J aircraft strengthens our bilateral military relationship and enhances joint regional security efforts between our two democracies. As President Obama said during his historic address to Parliament, ‘as two global leaders, the United States and India can partner for global security.’ The growing capabilities of the Indian military are a testament to his vision of India’s expanding role as a global leader.”