The IAF's C-130J Hercules aircraft. The IAF will have 12 such aircraft, kitted for Special Forces operations.
Pasted below is the official PRO Defence account of the practice mission. It must be noted that this mission did not actually carry any Special Forces soldiers... it was more a test of mobilisation, preparation, navigation and tactical flight procedures. It is noteworthy that the 12-hour flight required no en-route refuelling!
IAF SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED LONG RANGE SPECIAL OPERATIONS MISSION
New Delhi – December 20th , 2011
On Monday, 12 December 2011, IAF simulated a piracy contingency at Campbell Bay in Nicobar Islands (the furthermost Island territory of India) based on an intelligence input that an Indian merchant ship had been hijacked with hostages. The mission simulated launching of a Para Special Forces team into the objective area using C-130J as airborne platform.
Planning revealed that the objective was about 3500 Nautical Miles away. The route was via Kolkata and Port Blair to the simulated Drop Zone over Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar Islands. The round trip would require a staggering 12 hours of flying time.
The ground crew prepared the aircraft in the early hours of the Monday morning while the air crew finished pre flight briefing procedures. After the walk around at 0430 hours, the four mighty engines roared to life. The aircraft took off at 0500 hrs and the crew commenced the 3500 Nautical Miles trip. Despite encountering inclement weather over the Bay of Bengal, the crew flew C-130J to Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar Islands and achieved the planned objective. The aircraft returned to Air Force Station Hindon after a non-stop mission of 12 hours 03 minutes without refueling enroute. The simulated launch of long range special operation mission was successfully accomplished.