Paul Lewis / Washington

Boeing winner in US C-130 update Rival manufacturer secures $4 billion deal with USAF to modernise up to 519 Lockheed Martin airlifters

The US Air Force plans to award Boeing a contract by 18 June to start development of the Lockheed Martin C-130 Avionics Modernisation Programme (AMP), opening the door to a potential upgrade of 519 airlifters over the next 14 years worth more than $4 billion.

Boeing's selection as AMP winner is a major setback for the aircraft's manufacturer Lockheed Martin and its hopes of expanding its aircraft services business. The other losing prime-contract bidders were BAE Systems and Raytheon.

Lockheed Martin put on a brave face saying that along with partner Rockwell Collins it had proposed a "growth orientated, cost effective solution". Attention now turns to the international market: "We will offer this approach to other operators of older C-130s along with the latest production version, the C-130J," says Lockheed Martin.

While Lockheed Martin sought to leverage its AMP proposal on theC-130J, Boeing's strategy drew on its C-17 experience and commercial airliner technology. The AMP cockpit is heavily influenced by the Boeing Next Generation 737, with six Honeywell liquid crystal displays and Smiths Aerospace flight management system.

"We'll be using all of Boeing's best resources," says David Kooper Smith, Boeing C-130AMP programme manager. "The military aerospace support team will be using multiple locations - a lot of the engineering will be done in Long Beach alongside the C-17; we'll use Macon, Georgia for kitting activity; installation will be done in San Antonio and Fort Walton, Florida will be working on the Special Operations aircraft."

Other equipment includes Flight Dynamics head-up displays, the Northrop Grumman APN-241 weather radar, TRW software, Rockwell Collins communications and Telephonics intercom. Honeywell will also supply the C-130AMP's autopilot, Smiths, the core processor and Israel Aircraft Industries the wiring harnesses.

The $485 million effort, covering 44 different versions of the C-130, will stretch to 2007. The first USAF aircraft to be modified will be a C-130H2 due to fly in 2004 followed by an MC-130H. Boeing has been awarded a second indefinite quantity/delivery integration services contract worth an initial $1 billion. The USAF has identified 519 C-130E/H aircraft it plans to upgrade to a single configuration.

Source: Flight International