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What is IAF spending $329 million on?

By Ajai Shukla
August 30, 2021 12:04 IST
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A five-year contract to provide comprehensive maintenance support for India's fleet of 12 C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter aircraft.
Ajai Shukla reports.

IMAGE: The C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter aircraft. Photograph: ANI Photo.
 

The Indian Air Force has awarded US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin a $328.8 million, five-year contract to provide comprehensive maintenance support for India's fleet of 12 C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter aircraft.

Lockheed Martin manufactures the highly regarded Super Hercules transport aircraft, which is flown by 26 operators in 22 nations.

The arrangement is called a 'Follow On Support-II' (FOS-II) contract.

The IAF will pay the US aerospace and defence giant -- the world's biggest arms supplier -- just under $5.5 million per C-130J, per year, in order to obtain a specified level of operational readiness across the fleet. This is an extension of the initial FOS-I contract.

The new contract also requires the firm to provide additional services that include 'supporting the C-130J airframe, contractor furnished equipment, peculiar and common spares, engines, propellers, software, publication services, ground handling equipment, ground support equipment and test equipment,' stated a Lockheed Martin release.

Such 'performance-based logistics' (PBL) contracts, which bind aerospace vendors to specified fleet availability levels, are becoming the norm for the IAF.

C-17 Globemaster III

When the IAF bought its fleet of 11 C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft, it ensured they were covered by a comprehensive PBL and training contract.

"Boeing provides onsite and multi-function support, with Boeing team members working closely with IAF operators and maintainers to ensure a high level of aircraft availability while reducing cost per flight hour," Boeing told Business Standard.

Boeing also supports the C-17 fleet with worldwide recovery support, emergency in-flight technical assistance and 24X7 aircraft-on-ground parts response.

P-8I Poseidon

Similarly, Boeing also supports the Indian Navy's fleet of P-8I Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft by providing PBL, spares, ground support equipment, field service representatives and on-site engineering support.

"Since induction, the Indian Navy P-8I fleet has surpassed 30,000 flight hours," says Boeing.

Rafale fighters

The IAF ensured that its fleet of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was contracted with PBL provisions that require the manufacturers, Dassault and Thales, to ensure a minimum of 75 per cent fleet availability -- or an average of 27 fighters available at all times from the 36-Rafale fleet.

For this package, which covers the Rafale's first five years of service, the IAF paid Euro 350 million ($410 million), or an annual average of $2.25 million per Rafale fighter.

Lockheed Martin's obligations

To fulfil its obligations, eight employees from Lockheed Martin (aircraft manufacturer), General Electric (propeller manufacturer) and Rolls-Royce (engine manufacturer) will be present as on-site technical support for the duration of the contract.

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Ajai Shukla in New Delhi
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