The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
February 14/20: Flown Over Taiwan Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on February 12 that a USAF MC-130J had flown over the Taiwan Strait on that morning from north to south direction. The press release added that a pair of B-52 bombers were off its east coast flying in the same direction as well. The ministry said it was aware of the flights and had monitored them throughout. The US Pacific Air Forces also confirmed that two B-52s had flown from Andersen Air Force Base on the US territory of Guam and conducted “synchronized training south of the Taiwan Strait with a US Air Force MC-130J” from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The USA has no formal ties with Taipei but is bound by its Taiwan Relations Act to help it defend itself, and Washington is the island’s main source of arms.
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 2016 – 2020
FY 2006 and earlier
FY 2005 and earlier (incomplete)
Additional Readings & Sources
News & Related Developments
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