A modernisation programme for the French air force's Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports has passed an early milestone, with Rockwell Collins having installed its Flight2 avionics suite in a system integration laboratory in Toulouse.
Collins says the development will enable air force pilots and engineers "to evaluate the integrated system on real hardware in a simulated cockpit environment".
Fourteen Hercules will be upgraded under a deal placed by France's DGA defence procurement agency last year. The aircraft will receive next-generation communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management equipment, plus dual head-up displays and an enhanced vision system to improve situational awareness.
"Upgrading to the Flight2 system provides the French air force with the latest generation of avionics that provide a tactical advantage, while optimising budget and minimising aircraft downtime," says Philippe Bardet, Collins' managing director for France. The next phase of the project will include supplying "tested modification kits directly to fielded aircraft", the company adds.
The modernisation programme is being conducted by an industry team also including Lockheed and Sabena Technics.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows the French air force's C-130Hs as between 26 and 42 years old.