Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin seeks customers in region for new and used airlifters

Boeing is to begin offering its avionics modernisation programme (AMP), which it is developing for the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, to Gulf region air forces. The company has also secured US Government approval to supply AMP to international customers.

Earlier this year, Boeing was selected by the US Air Force to provide the package for a large number of C-130s, beating off competition from Lockheed and others.

Mark Bass, Boeing general manager, military products business development Middle East, Africa and the Americas, says talks will be held with Middle Eastern C-130 operators, including Saudi Arabia - which has the second largest fleet after the USA - Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. "All operators in this region will be briefed by the end of the year," Bass adds.

The USAF will upgrade at least 500 C-130s, offering overseas air forces "economies of scale on their upgrades", says Bass.

He says there is also the opportunity to offer some regional air forces a combination of theC-130 AMP and a "small number" of Boeing C-17s.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin is offering Gulf nations new C-130Js as well as used Hercules.

Lockheed Martin director international development George Standridge says that in the near term Bahrain, which does not operate the airlifter, and the UAE are potential buyers of used C-130s, while Pakistan is a longer-term prospect.

Standridge says customers are being offered airframe refurbishments and cockpit upgrades to meet the latest air traffic management requirements (GATM).

Long term, Saudi Arabia is seen as a customer for a combination of C-130Js and the smaller, twin-engined Alenia/Lockheed Martin C-27J, which has common powerplants and systems. Egypt is also a prospective C-130J operator.

Boeing's AMP offer will also face stiff competition from suppliers offering Hercules GATM upgrades, including Derco and Singapore Technologies Aerospace (STAe).

STAe director international upgrades, James Tan, says it is offering C-130 avionics upgrades, unveiled at the show, from GATM compatibility to full avionics overhaul.

Derco has recently secured several C-130 support deals, including one to upgrade the avionics of 20 Hercules for an undisclosed customer and two airlifters operated by the Gabonese air force, which is to include depot maintenance.

Source: Flight International