The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
June 7/16: According to Joseph Fountain, supervisory contract officer with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Mobility Directorate, a multi-year contract has been signed with Lockheed Martin to procure 78 C-130J Super Hercules with the option to buy up to 83 over the next five years. Under the contract, the second multi-year deal for the C-130J, the Defense Department will save about $680 million and provide the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard with important airlift capabilities. The contract also funds an affordability program in which Lockheed receives $35 million up front and agrees to $65 million in labor reductions over the life of the contract, which according to Fountain will allow the company to assemble the aircraft more efficiently.
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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