LOCKHEED MARTIN is studying a floatplane version of the C-130J Hercules 2 transport and says that there is significant interest in the concept from US Navy special-forces. The scheme involves a removable catamaran hull attached to the underside of an otherwise unmodified C-130J.
Conversion from landplane to floatplane configuration, and back again, is possible "in several hours", the company says, and full use of the aircraft's rear cargo-ramp is retained when the floats are attached. Possible missions include covert insertion and extraction of seaborne special-forces, submarine search-and-rescue and firefighting. For the latter role, the floatplane would have ramp-mounted deployable water-scoops.
Lockheed Martin says that it has a contract to study the C-130J floatplane, but declines to identify potential customers - the US Special Forces is clearly one target.
The company is known to have worked with Australian boat designer Stolkraft on a hull design offering low water resistance. Stolkraft says that its "air-lubricated" hull is basically a trimaran at the front and a catamaran at the back. Model tests of the hull at speeds up to 100kt (185km/h) have been conducted.
Source: Flight International