India's elite anti-hijacking and anti-terror force, the National Security Guard, also known as Black Cats, now have dedicated, fast and big transport planes available to them to zip around the country in any emergency.
In a recent decision, India's top security managers have decided to keep on one-hour readiness one newly-acquired C-130J Hercules plane each for the four NSG facilities at Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
Although the Aviation Research Centre or ARC under the Research and Analysis Wing is supposed to ferry the NSG troopers for any anti-hijacking or anti-terror missions in their IL-76 planes, the Air Force has offered to place the C-130Js on stand-by since the state of the art tactical airlift planes are much better equipped for such missions.
India bought six C-130Js from the United States in 2010. All of them are based at the Hindon Air Station just outside Delhi. Six more are to be acquired over the next two years. The US Marine Corps utilises these aircraft for its expeditionary operations. NSG trooper have carried out practice runs on the Hercules over the past six months, familiarising themselves with the working of the super-efficient aircraft.
The Air Force has also decided to train men of the Garud force -- its own commando force -- on the C-130Js to develop synergy. The primary task for the Hercules, however, remains transportation and employment with the Army's Parachute Regiment under which India's largest Special Forces operate.
Over the next two years, Indian Air Force will also induct the the C-17 strategic airlift airplanes.
The four-engine C-17 aircraft can lift two T-90 tanks and artillery guns and are used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to operating bases throughout the world. It can also perform tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions. The aircraft has the capacity to carry over 130 fully-equipped combat ready troops.The Indian Air Force, still waiting for finalisation of the big contract to purchase 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft is, however, doing well in quickly inducting tactical and strategic airlift capable transport aircraft which will fulfill a variety of roles -- from transporting NSG troops to ferrying relief material in natural calamities and from ferrying personnel of the National Disaster Response Force to air drop special forces in a conflict situation.