Lockheed Martin is preparing bids in response to interest generated by the C-130J Hercules 2 sales tour through southern European and the Middle East. Of the 12 countries visited, most have active procurement requirements "of some degree of maturity", says Rick Hundley, vice- president international business development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems.

The C-130J returned to Marietta, Georgia, on 14 March after completing 38 demonstration flights in Portugal, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Turkey and Israel. There is a long term requirement for about 100 aircraft in the region, Hundley calculates.

Greece and Turkey are expected to release requests for proposals for airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft in mid-year, leading to decisions by early 1999. Greece is considering the Northrop Grumman E-2, an AEW version of the Embraer RJ-145 and the C-130J. Turkey is examining the C-130J and AEW versions of the Airbus A310 and Boeing 737 and 767.

Hundley says the sales tour included demonstrations of the C-130J's ability to climb to and operate at altitudes required for the AEW mission. "We climbed in 16min to 29,000-30,000ft [8,900-9,100m]," he says, adding that an ability to evade fighters was also demonstrated.

The trip totalled over 100h flying hours. Only 11h of unscheduled maintenance was required, Hundley says, noting that the aircraft had accumulated only 12-14h flying when the tour began.

Hundley says that five of the countries visited - Greece, Portugal and three Middle East nations - also expressed interest in the Lockheed Martin/Alenia C-27J transport as a complement to the larger C-130J.

Source: Flight International