Military airframer Lockheed Martin has delivered the 2,700th example of the company’s venerable C-130 Hercules tactical transport.

The milestone aircraft, a KC-130J refueller variant, will be operated by the US Marine Corps (USMC) at Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. Lockheed disclosed the delivery on 18 June, noting that the USMC is the largest KC-130J operator globally.

“Not only does this Hercules represent the 2,700th C-130 delivered, but it also reflects the inherent mission and performance adaptability that fuels the C-130’s ongoing relevance,” says Rod McLean, general manager of Lockheed’s air mobility unit.

The transfer comes as Lockheed reports strong demand for the battle-tested turboprop, having recently delivered the last of six aircraft ordered by Germany.

“There is robust demand from the US government and our international customers,” Larry Gallogly, Lockheed director of customer requirements for air mobility, told FlightGlobal at the ILA Berlin air show on 6 June. “We see very strong demand throughout Europe and Asia for replacing their current airlift fleets with C-130Js.”

2700th_C-130 Herc_Delivered c Lockheed Martin

Source: Lockheed Martin

The milestone aircraft is a KC-130J refueller variant operated by the US Marine Corps

Lockheed says the four-engined transport is operated in 70 countries globally, with 22 flying the latest J-variant Hercules.

Globally, 1,206 C-130s of all variants are in service, Cirium data says, with another 236 in storage. More than 560 of the active C-130s are J-models, according to Lockheed.

With an average age of 32 years, the active fleet includes both standard airlifter models and numerous modified variants certified to support 18 mission requirements, including electronic warfare, search and rescue, close-air support and Arctic resupply.

Despite rosy predictions about future orders, Lockheed is now reducing annual output of the C-130J from 24 to 20 units, partly because the US Air Force is largely done purchasing the type for National Guard and Reserve units.

In addition to pursuing a new multi-year procurement deal with the Pentagon, Lockheed is working to sell C-130Js to Australia and is courting Sweden, which is set to make decision later this year on replacing its fleet of older C-130H models.

New Zealand and the Philippines both have contracts to acquire the latest C-130J.