The C-130J Super Hercules aircraft was the subject of heavy criticism and a near-death budget experience, followed by its reinstatement by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on grounds that canceling the contract would be almost as expensive as completing it. The C-130J serves with a number of other air forces, and has since been deployed into theater by the USAF where its vastly improved performance in “hot and high” environments has come in very handy.
The US has since issued a follow-on orders for the basic C-130J aircraft and some key variants (KC-130J tanker, EC-130J broadcaster, WC-130J weather, et. al.) in order to begin recapitalizing its decaying C-130 fleet, making the C-130J their successor by default. Unlike the pending Airbus A400M, however, the C-130J doesn’t solve the sub-survivable 20-ton armored vehicle limit that has stymied multiple US armored vehicle programs from the Stryker IAV to Future Combat Systems. As such, it represents an improvement that fails to address US tactical airlift’s key bottleneck limitation.
The excuse of C-130J contract cancellation fees being too high may or may not have been face-saving dodge in the face of Congressional lobbying. What is now far more certain is that the cancellation figures cited were over-estimated.