Singapore’s ST Engineering sees a long future in providing support for the world’s fleets of legacy Lockheed Martin C-130 tactical transports, but is nonetheless seeking to broaden its portfolio to include other aircraft types.

Given Singapore’s long-serving and active C-130 fleet, ST has vast experience with the iconic type, says Daniel Ho, who heads strategic plans and international business for the company’s defence aerospace business.

Singapore C-130

Source: Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal

The average of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s C-130 fleet is 50.8 years

ST has also performed extensive work on C-130s in service with foreign air forces. It has provided airframe support for over 650 aircraft, overhauled more than 1,200 Rolls-Royce T56 engines, and provides a range of other sustainment activities, including avionics upgrades and wing-box replacements.

While ST has carried out work for the Republic of Singapore Air Force and regional customers, its client list includes operators from further afield. This includes a deal announced in 2023 to upgrade and maintain a pair of Tunisian air force C-130s.

“We have our own engineers with engineering data and expertise from various customers around the world,” says Ho. “This is a big thrust, because the C-130 is still a workhorse.”

Ho declines to specify the number of C-130s that ST can handle simultaneously but indicates that the company’s capacity is significant. And while several countries have their own C-130 support capabilities, if these are fully utilised they can tap ST for what Ho calls “overflow” work.

Ho adds that legacy C-130B/H aircraft still have a long future in service, even with the arrival of newer tactical transport options.

“There are many air forces that even if they have bought C-130Js or new tactical transports, the C-130H is still the backbone [of thier fleets],” says Ho.

“Especially in large countries like Indonesia and the Philippines with many islands where you need to hop big geographical spans.”

In addition to military roles, Ho points out that older C-130s are also critical for humanitarian and UN missions.

Nonetheless, ST is looking to expand its capabilities to cover other transports, potentially including aircraft that are not operated by Singapore.

He observes that types such as the Airbus Defence & Space C295, A400M, and Embraer C-390 are increasingly prevalent.

“We want to look to the future where these platforms start to become more mainstream in this region,” adds Ho.

“I think one of the things the [OEMs] appreciate about us is that we are a high-quality, cost-effective centre in the region, and regional customers of new tactical transports don’t want to fly aircraft back to the OEM somewhere far away.”

CORRECTED: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the year of the Tunisian deal.