The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
November 12/15: France is looking to buy four C-130J transport aircraft through the US’ Foreign Military Sales program, with the State Department approving the sale. Previous reports indicate that the sale could be intended to plug a gap in Airbus A400M delivery schedules to the French Air Force, with French officials meeting with Lockheed Martin in June . The French defense budget for FY16 includes the provision of $1.7 billion for four C-130s, with the FMS request running to $650 million, including communications and self-protection systems and support services.
Meanwhile, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $968.7 million contract action modification for the production of 17 C-130J variants, including six C-130J-30, one HC-130J, nine MC-130J and one KC-130J aircraft. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin reached an agreement in October to fund a five-year deal for C-130Js, covering 83 aircraft for the Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
The (Private) Labors of Hercules: the C-130J Family
Base Platform: The C-130J
The Value of Variants
Turbulent Flight: The C-130J Program
The C-130J and the 20-ton Bottleneck
Contracts and Key Events
FY 2006 and earlier
FY 2005 and earlier (incomplete)
Additional Readings & Sources
News & Related Developments
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