India has officially exercised its option to buy six more American C-130J four-engine propjet transports. In 2008, India ordered its first six C-130Js, with an option to buy six more. The first six C-130Js have been delivered. India is paying $200 million per aircraft for the first six, and this included training, warranties, and some maintenance. The second six will cost less ($127 million each) because the support infrastructure is already there. India also bought some additional equipment for some of the C-130Js to support commando operations. The 2008 sales was the first time, in several decades, that India has bought American military aircraft. Currently, the Indians use Russian military transports (An-32s and Il-76s).
The "J" model is the latest version of the C-130, which has been in service for over half a century. The capabilities of the C-130J (which can carry about twenty tons) are superior to anything the Russians offer. India has several thousand highly regarded commandos and has recently been lavishing this force with new weapons and equipment. The commandos will use the C-130Js a lot because these aircraft are equipped with night vision equipment and are capable of operations high in the mountains in any weather. There are still Indian opponents to the C-130J deal, but the enthusiasm for non-Russian military equipment has grown enormously with the success over the last few years of Israeli gear used to deal with Islamic terrorists in Kashmir.
Originally, the C-130 was designed to carry fifteen tons of cargo, ninety-two troops, or sixty-four paratroopers. The latest version, the seventy-four ton C-130J, has a top speed of six-hundred and forty-four kilometers, a range of over twelve-thousand kilometers, and can carry twenty tons of cargo. The C-130 is used by more than fifty countries and over two-thousand and three-hundred have been built since the 1950s.