MARIETTA, Ga. -- Lockheed Martin has displayed a fuzzy image of a whole new version of the 55-year-old C-130 Hercules family tailored to support the needs of special operations forces.
The picture (above) was visible in the bottom-left corner of a briefing slide (below) presented to reporters yesterday, who traveled to Lockheed's C-130J final assembly line to witness the keel-laying ceremony for the first production HC-130J.
Asked about the blurry concept image, Lockheed officials acknowledged developing plans for a larger version of the Super Hercules. It would feature extra storage capacity to house surveillance equipment and weapons required by special operations forces, who are emerging as a key new customer for Lockheed's C-130J. The goal is to clean up the C-130's outer mold line, while still providing special operators with all of their desired payloads.
Lockheed also displayed a slightly different version of a larger C-130 airframe slightly over a year ago. At that time, Lockheed said the enlarged version could be needed to support the US Army's increasingly heavier ground vehicles, and compete with the Airbus A400M.