Lockheed Martin hopes to make Vigilant Watch sale within 15 months

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Lockheed Martin hopes to make its first sale of the Vigilant Watch intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) kit for its C-130 Hercules within the next 15 months, a senior company executive says.

"I am optimistic that within the next 15 months that we'll have a sale in hand," says Jim Grant, Lockheed's vice president for air mobility business development. But until a sale is concluded, Grant says he cannot offer any further details.

 usaf c-130

 ©Lockheed Martin

However, a number of NATO countries have shown interest in the Vigilant Watch kit, Grant says. Indeed a model of the kit was on display at the CANSEC defence trade show in Ottawa, Canada, last week.

Though the company is marketing the pod primarily to international customers, the kit is based on technologies developed for the US Marine Corps' Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) programme and the Defense Intelligence Agency's Shadow Harvest.

"We're offering a little bit more than what the Marine Corps has, but it's not dissimilar to what they're doing on Harvest HAWK," Grant says.

The Vigilant Watch kit consists of a modified fuel tank fitted with ISR sensors mounted on the C-130's wing hard-point and roll-on/roll-off mission stations. Grant says that a customer could configure the system with whatever types of ISR sensors that a particular country needs-which might include signals intelligence sensors, communications intelligence sensors, an electro-optical camera or other sensor types.

The electro-optical camera is more sophisticated than that found on the Harvest HAWK, Grant says. Overall, the system is probably closer in capability to the Shadow Harvest than the USMC kit, he says.

It would take only a matter of hours to convert an appropriately wired Hercules from its transport configuration and turn it into an ISR aircraft, Grant says.

"For most countries, one or two kits would provide them the capability they would need," he adds.

But while Vigilant Watch is currently an ISR system, it could have a "growth path" towards gaining an armed capability similar to the Harvest HAWK. An armed version would depend upon customer requirements and US export releases, Grant says.