A U.S.-made C-130J Hercules transport plane belonging to the Indian Air Force, or IAF, crashed during a routine training mission on Friday near Gwalior, about 200 miles south of New Delhi, killing all five crew members.
The IAF has initiated an investigation into the cause of the crash, which occurred 72 miles from Gwalior in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The aircraft made by Washington-based Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) and equipped with Rolls Royce (LON:RR) engines, was purchased by India as part of a six-plane deal worth $962 million, and was considered one of the safest planes in the IAF fleet.
"One C-130J aircraft crashed 72 miles (115 km) west of Gwalior air base. The aircraft was airborne from Agra at 1000 hours 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, according to Press Trust of India.
India had reportedly deployed two such aircraft to Kuala Lumpur to aid in a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, but it was not clear if the crashed aircraft had been part of that search operation.
According to Lockheed Martin's website, the C-130Js can take off and land at 2,000 foot-long dirt strips in high mountain ranges and can transport more than 40,000 pounds of cargo and supplies. More than 300 such planes have been delivered to 16 countries, and have logged more than a million hours of flight time.
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The IAF has a long record of crashes involving more than half of its 872 Russian-built MiG aircraft, which have claimed the lives of 171 pilots, India’s defense minister A.K. Antony had reportedly told the nation's parliament in 2012, according to Reuters.