Lockheed Martin ceremonially rolled out the first LM-100J commercial freighter off the assembly line in Marietta, Georgia, completing a key milestone ahead of a scheduled first flight in the spring.

The roll-out comes three years after Lockheed launched the LM-100J programme to adapt the Super Hercules for a niche cargo market, replacing more than older-model L-100s delivered by Lockheed from the early 1960s to 25 years ago.

The LM-100J introduces a two-person flight crew and more powerful, Rolls-Royce AE2100 engines. It will be identical to the military freighter, except removing the tactical windows along the cockpit floorboards and military radios.

The LM-100J is designed to support several mission, including oversized cargo transport to remote landing areas, aerial firefighting and search and rescue.

Lockheed has signed orders for multiple LM-100Js and received commitments by ASL Aviation Group and Bravo Industries.

Lockheed plans to complete US Federal Aviation Administration certification in 2018 and begin deliveries in the fourth quarter of that year.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the name of the Rolls-Royce engines on the LM-100J.

Source: FlightGlobal.com