Meanwhile, electrical problems delay EC-130J by six months

Lockheed Martin has formed a new Air Mobility Support (AMS) organisation to improve post-delivery support for its transport and maritime patrol aircraft. The move comes as the company tries to tackle mission equipment integration problems with the new EC-130J Commando Solo that have forced the US Air National Guard (ANG) to postpone delivery of the special operations aircraft.

AMS is designed to improve Lockheed Martin's responsiveness to operator needs and comes in the wake of its loss of the $3.9 billion C-130 Avionics Modernisation Programme (AMP) to Boeing. AMS will link Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta; Greenville-based Aircraft and Logistics Centre; Information Systems in Orlando; and Systems Integration in Owego.

"Lockheed Martin has got so big it was starting to cause confusion with our customers about where to go for support," says Jim Grant, Lockheed Martin AMS director.

The new organisation will deal with modernisation and upgrades, maintenance repair and overhaul, supply chain management, engine services, avionics and mission systems, training, support equipment, technical representatives and publications. Aircraft types include the C-130 series, C-5A/B and C-141 transports and P-3 and S-3 maritime patrol aircraft.

A more immediate issue facing the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is resolving the electrical issues that have pushed back the EC-130J programme by around six months. The first fully equipped Commando Solo aircraft had been due to be handed over to the Pennsylvania ANG's 193th Special Operations Squadron at the end of this month. Initial operational capability before the end of 2003 is now in doubt.

Lockheed Martin has completed four of the five EC-130J platforms ordered, but modification of the first aircraft has run into problems integrating a new switchable 60/90kVA generator with the aircraft's broadcast system. The aircraft are designed to jam and broadcast across a wide band radio and TV spectrum. The aircraft are replacing 25-year-old EC-130Es.

Source: Flight International