The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
March 16/20: Cockpit Trim Panels: Marshall Advanced Composites signed an $11.6 million contract with Lockheed Martin to manufacture and supply cockpit trim panels for its C-130J Super Hercules airlifter for the next five years. “We are delighted to have received this five-year contract from Lockheed Martin. It really is testament to the hard work of the team and strength of our partnership with Lockheed Martin“, said Advanced Composites General Manager, Carl Morse. He continued: “We’ve been supplying the panels for over 20 years and have historically been on a series of relatively short term contracts, however our proven ability to drive cost out of the supply, outstanding on-time delivery record and appetite to innovate our processes has given our customer the confidence to make another long-term commitment. The panels are manufactured at Marshall’s composites facility in North Yorkshire from phenolic glass fibre sandwich panels with a Nomex honeycomb core, followed by finishing operations such as painting, electrical assembly and integration to provide Lockheed Martin with lineside kits of plug and play parts to their Marietta facility.
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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