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Farnborough 2010: Lockheed Martin looks to sell another 250 C-130J

21st July 2010 - 8:02 by Ian Kemp in Farnborough

Lockheed Martin believes there is a market for more than 250 additional C-130J Super Hercules, Ross Reynolds, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for C-130 programs, told reporters at Farnborough, adding that the estimate is conservative.

Reynolds said the aircraft has established itself as ‘a vital part of the fabric of airlift across the globe’ since becoming operational in 2002. ‘The C-130J proves itself on a daily basis while engaged in combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations. There is no greater proof of an aircraft’s value than when it does the job it is designed to do exceptionally well.’ He said the aircraft achieves a mission capable rate of 90% or more.

Reynolds highlighted a number of recent or imminent milestones. In June the company delivered the first of 17 CC-130Js to the Canadian Air Force, six months ahead of contract schedule. The aircraft arrived in time for the air force’s celebration in September of the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the C-130 into Canadian service.

Lockheed Martin will shortly be delivering the 200th aircraft, a second HC-130J combat rescue tanker variant for the US Air Force’s Air Combat Command. Lockheed Martin will deliver the first of six C-130Js to the Indian Air Force by the end of the year; these aircraft feature equipment unique to India to support special operations. India is the 61st country to order the C-130 and was followed by Qatar which has ordered four C-130Js.

As of June 12 countries had ordered 284 J models of which 190 had been delivered. This figure includes 129 for the US Air Force (USAF), 46 for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and six for the US Coast Guard (USGC).  Reynolds said the company expects orders for a further 150 aircraft from the USAF, USMC, US Navy, USCG and the US Forest Service which will use its aircraft for fire fighting.

Orders from Israel and Kuwait will extend the C-130J user community to 14 nations. Reynolds described as ‘conservative’ the company’s estimate of a further 100 aircraft orders on the international market.

The company has ramped up production from 12 J models in 2008, to 16 in 2009 and expects to complete 24 to 26 aircraft this year.

Lockheed Martin has offered to lease C-130Js in USAF configuration to replace the Royal Air Force fleet of 14 C-130K (C1/C3) aircraft, which are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, until the introduction of the Airbus Military A400M Grizzly. Should the Conservative government decide to cancel the planned purchase of 22 A400M Grizzly transports as a result of the current Strategic Defence and Security Review Lockheed Martin is confident the UK will order additional C-130Js to join the 25 already in service. 

Another Lockheed Martin official noted that the RAF appreciates the value of aircraft configured to support special forces operations and is watching with keen interest the introduction of the MC-130J into the US Air Force Special Operations Command. He predicted the UK could order four to six aircraft configured for this role.

The company expects the J model to remain in production for another 10 years. ‘The C-130J is still seeing new horizons in terms of design and we have more on the drawing board,’ said Reynolds.

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