The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks
November 30/20: New Locations Three National Guard bases and a Navy Reserve base were selected to receive new C-130J Super Hercules cargo planes, the US Air Force announced. Louisville Air National Guard Base in Kentucky, McLaughlin ANGB in West Virginia and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Texas are set to start receiving eight new aircraft each in the coming year. Savannah ANGB in Georgia is also scheduled to receive C-130Js “if they become available in the future,” officials said in a press release. The Lockheed Martin-built planes are improvements over earlier C-130 variants they will replace, and offer reduced manpower requirements and operating and support costs, providing life-cycle cost savings, the Air Force said. The C-130J climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance than its predecessors.
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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