Lockheed Martin is proposing to adapt part of the Royal Air Force’s in-service fleet of C-130J tactical transports to meet a potential UK requirement for a maritime patrol or multi-mission aircraft capability.

Outlined at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London on 15 September, the company’s SC-130J proposal would take the RAF’s 10 short-fuselage C-130Js and incorporate a mission system derived from that already integrated by Lockheed onto the Royal Navy’s AgustaWestland Merlin HM2 helicopters. This would include fitting an active, electronically-scanned array radar beneath the fuselage and weapons sponsons in front of the main landing gear to accommodate torpedoes.

SC-130J torpedo - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

Other proposed enhancements would include fitting extended-range fuel tanks to increase mission endurance to 14h, under-wing weapons pylons capable of carrying anti-ship and air-to-surface missiles, a 20in electro-optical/infrared sensor and new communications and electronic support measures equipment. It also could gain a magnetic anomaly detector boom, if required to perform anti-submarine warfare duties, the company says.

In-country modifications – which would also include fitting sonobuoy dispensers and workstations for five onboard mission system operators – would be performed by the RAF’s existing C-130J support provider, Marshall Aerospace. The proposal also involves giving the aircraft replacement centre wing boxes, which Keith Muir, international business development manager for Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems, says could enable a service life of another 25 to 30 years.

Along with several other potential bidders for a maritime surveillance requirement, Lockheed is hoping to see the need for such a capability identified during the UK government’s pending Strategic Defence and Security Review.

“We are looking forward to a fair competition, with clear requirements,” Muir says.

SC-130J missile - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

An SC-130J platform would be able to fly 1,000nm (1,850km) and remain on station for more than 6h without air-to-air refuelling, Lockheed says. The company adds that it could deliver an operational capability to the UK before 2020 by modifying part of the RAF’s existing C-130J fleet, with a support model and trained crews already in place for the type.

Source: FlightGlobal.com