The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
October 20/20: Early Retirment In The Netherlands The Netherlands is to retire its aging fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules airlifters earlier than planned. The country’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on October 13 that the four C-130H aircraft operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), the oldest of which date back to 1978, are to be replaced as their readiness rates have become so poor as to hinder simultaneous operations. The RNLAF received two new ‘stretched’ C-130H-30 Hercules in 1992 and two surplus ‘standard’ C-130H Hercules in 2005. The MoD had planned to modernize these aircraft, although it has now decided that such a programme would reduce the already poor availability of the fleet further and so an immediate replacement is the best option.
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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