The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
May 20/20: Infrared Countermeasures System BAE Systems announced a $26.7 million Navy contract to fit its infrared countermeasures system onto KC-130J cargo and refueling planes. The contract calls for the installation of the Navy’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system, or LAIRCM, the aircraft. The system is a defensive warning package combining a missile warning system and infrared laser jammer countermeasure system to protect the aircraft from guided missiles. Up to 19 KC-130J planes of the Navy will receive the system, which will be installed in Crestview, Florida., in conjunction with Vertex Aerospace LLC. The KC-130 series, built by Lockheed Martin, is capable of aircraft carrier landings despite its size, and is in use by the militaries of 17 countries. France received its second, a refueling plane, in February.
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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