Cascade Aerospace is leveraging its experience in the management and maintenance of the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130E/H tactical transports in the international marketplace.

The company is looking to provide comprehensive upgrades and maintenance along with ongoing support to operators of "legacy" Hercules.

There are more than 1,000 such aircraft worldwide – 800 of which are operated by the US military. The remaining 200 flown by other countries will need to be modernised to continue operations beyond 2020, which Cascade says represents an upgrade market worth between C$750 million ($685 million) and C$1 billion.

In 2006, Cascade was awarded the contract to be primary air vehicle optimised weapons systems manager for Canada's C-130E/H fleet. Fleet management tasks included providing in-service support, aircraft modification and engineering and the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft structures and systems, with avionics support also covered from last year. The programme shifted the management of hundreds of MRO and support contracts from the air force to a single point of accountability.

“The contract model frees the RCAF to actually fly their planes," says Rick Renard, Cascade’s director, business development. "The model has increased aircraft availability by 10-15%, lowered costs and provided the RCAF with more cost certainty. There are a lot of countries interested in this model, which is performance-based [and] measured against aircraft availability.”

In November 2013 Cascade acquired its first international customer, with a contract to modernise two of the Mexican air force’s C-130Ks. The agreement includes an extensive programmed depot maintenance programme, an upgrade to Rockwell Collins' Flight2 integrated avionics package and the incorporation of the “short pod” auxiliary power unit modification.

The work is being performed at Cascade’s Abbotsford, British Columbia headquarters. When the modernisation is complete, the C-130s will be returned in an “almost new” condition, according to a company official.

“Lots of firms like us can do this, but what we bring that’s a little different is our knowledge of the Canadian fleet," says Renard. "What I tell people is to look at what Canada has done with a very moderate budget, and to scale your solution to your budget and requirements.”

Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database records the RCAF as operating 12 E/H-model Hercules. Cascade also provides in-service support for Canada's new-generation C-130Js, 17 of which are in use.