An Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft crashed today making it the third time the Lockheed Martin built aircraft has gone down.
The aircraft, one of six, inducted about four years ago crashed in near Gwalior city in Northern India killing five crew members.
“One C-130J aircraft crashed 115 km west of Gwalior airbase. The aircraft was airborne from Agra at 1000 hours (IST) for a routine flying training mission. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate into the cause of the accident,” an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi.
The aircraft currently in operation with at least 16 countries around the world has suffered only two previous accidents. In 2007, a RAF aircraft was severely damaged during landing in Iraq and reported no loss of life.
In 2012, a Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130J-30 on a flight from Norway to Sweden collided with the side of Kebnekaise Mountain, and disintegrated. The accident claimed all five aboard.
The cause for the latest crash remains unclear.
The "J" is the standard by which all other airlift is measured in terms of availability, flexibility and reliability.
With more than 1 million flight hours, the C-130J has been deployed in two combat theaters where they operated at a very high tempo efficiently and reliably. In non-combat -- but equally harsh --environments, C-130Js are often the first to support missions like search and rescue, aerial firefighting, and delivering relief supplies after earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons and tsunamis around the world.
The Indian Air Force has a poor safety record in comparison with any other in the world. Half of its largely Russian-origin fleet of 872 MiG aircraft has been to crashes killing 171, Defense Minister A.K. Antony told parliament in 2012.
India’s tactical transport fleet consists largely of 105 An-32 aircraft of which two have been lost to crashes. While it’s latest tactical aircraft acquisition, the C-130J Super Hercules has lost one of six aircraft.
Interestingly Lockheed Martin’s deal with India includes maintenance and support where even the consumables come from the US.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin issued a statement saying, "We are saddened to hear the news of the C-130J accident in India today and our thoughts and prayers are with the crew and their families at this time. We are ready to provide assistance as requested by the Indian Air Force.”