Lockheed foresees long, rich futures for C-130J, F-16

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Lockheed Martin has updated plans for rapidly escalating C-130J Hercules production output, while F-16 deliveries are set to contract for two years before possibly doubling again after 2012.

Chief financial officer Bruce Tanner, discussing third-quarter earnings on 20 October, revealed that C-130J deliveries will grow from 12 aircraft in 2008 to 16 this year and 26 next year.

Iraq and Kuwait ordered a total of 10 C-130Js in the third quarter. The US Air Force has since added 11 units to its C-130J order.

Meanwhile, the F-16 line faces a two-year period of contracting deliveries as several potential customers, including Iraq and Morocco, have shifted orders beyond 2011. F-16 output will decline from about 30 this year to 20 or 21 next year and in 2011.

But Lockheed still foresees a long future for the single-engine fighter. The Obama administration has notified the US Congress that Egypt could buy 24 F-16s, and Lockheed is negotiating with several countries in the Middle East. Iraq has previously been named as a potential F-16 buyer, and last week chief executive Bob Stevens said Oman and Qatar were also interested.

The extended survival of the C-130J and F-16 production lines are helping Lockheed's aeronautics division to offset the impact of the F-22 programme termination in 2011. Tanner expects F-35 Joint Strike Fighter deliveries to account for 75% of the division's projected $20 billion yearly revenue total by 2015.