India is buying six C-130J aircraft from Lockheed Martin in a deal potentially worth about $1 billion, with first delivery in 2011, according to press articles and wire services on Feb. 18 from the DefExpo2008 show now underway in New Dehli. The transaction is significant because it marks the first time in decades that the Asian nation will acquire military airplanes of US origin. But this deal is just the first of several opportunities for American aerospace companies to land big ticket contracts in India over the next several years, as the Indians are also in search of modern fighters, maritime surveillance aircraft, and helicopters. Orville Prins, Lockheed Martin’s lead official in India, said a letter of intent for the C-130Js was signed in January, according to the news reports. India joins the list of seven nations that have already purchased the Super Hercules. Canada signed on in January for 17 C-130Js. As more international orders come in, Lockheed Martin is working with the US Air Force to come to terms on a new multiyear deal for the purchase of dozens of additional combat-delivery C-130Js and tanker derivatives.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.