Hindon (Agencies): After forty years, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday inducted an American origin aircraft, the C-130J 'Super Hercules' transport plane, strengthening its special operational capability.

Defence Minister AK Antony inducted the aircraft into the newly formed 77 Squadron of the IAF by handing over the keys of the aircraft to Unit Commanding Officer (CO) Group Captain Tejbeer Singh at Hindon air base near here.

"C-130J will help the IAF to maintain its qualitative edge and enhance its war fighting capabilities," Antony said in his address at the induction ceremony.

Besides the Defence Minister, IAF chief PV Naik and the US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer were also present at the ceremony.

The C-130Js, the latest version of Hercules with four powerful engines and around 20-tonne payload-carrying capacity, will increase India's rapid reaction capabilities since the rugged aircraft can land on unprepared and short air fields as well.

Asked if the IAF would exercise the option of procuring another six aircraft, the Defence Minister said, "We will increase the number of aircraft in the transport fleet of the IAF. The process to get the C-17 heavy-lift aircraft is in the final stages. We are not satisfied with six C-130J only."

With its 20-tonne payload capability, the aircraft will also help the IAF bridge the gap in load-carrying capabilities of the Russian Ilyushin-76 and Antonov-32, which can ferry loads up to 40 tonnes and 8 tonnes respectively.

The Super Hercules is a highly integrated and complicated configuration primarily designed to support India's special operations requirement. Equipped with an Infrared Detection Set (IDS), the aircraft can perform precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions.

But in absence of defence agreements such as the CISMOA, the C-130Js will be without some of the critical communication equipment that is fitted on the American jet.