Meanwhile, Boeing awaits go-ahead on five-year purchase for an additional 60 C-17s

Lockheed Martin is encouraging the US Air Force and US Marine Corps towards a combined multi-year procurement (MYP) of 60C-130J/KC-130J Hercules transport and tanker aircraft with the offer of increased savings. Boeing, meanwhile, has completed negotiations for the sale of 60 additional C-17s, and is awaiting political approval of the five-year deal.

Lockheed Martin is looking to the USAF's planned purchased of 40 C-130J-30s and the USMC's requirement for 20 KC-130J in-flight refuelling aircraft to provide the production programme with the stability it has lacked. The military, in return for committing to an "economic order quantity", is being promised significant unit cost savings. The C-130J-30 baseline price is $67 million.

"Air force savings are around 8%, and if you add in the USMC, you'll improve those numbers further," says Jim Grant, Lockheed Martin senior director domestic marketing development. The company has sold 113 aircraft, of which 51 are for the Air National Guard, USAF Reserve, and USMC, thanks partially to Congressional funding add-ons. It hopes to have an MYP contract by October.

"Our goal is to get 16 aircraft per year through international and government sales," says Grant. As well as the MYP, Lockheed Martin sees a Special Operations Command need for MC-130J tankers, and is promoting development of a gunship version for the USMC that could be available within three years. The company says it is continuing work on a US Coast Guard need for 16-18 patrol aircraft.

Meanwhile, Boeing has completed talks with the USAF for another 60 C-17s at $152 million each (in 1999 dollars) and hopes to secure a contract by April once the secretary of defence and Congress have approved the deal.

Pricing is based on sustaining production at 15 transports per year beyond fiscal year 2003, and the final eight transports ordered under the first MYP. But the USAF is having to juggle finances and make payments in FY03 for just 12.

The second batch will feature upgrades such as new weather radar, replacement of obsolete line replaceable units and the addition of the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system. Boeing has also offered to raise maximum take-off weight from 265,600kg (585,000lb) to 279,200kg, a move so far declined by the USAF.

The USAF has also identified a requirement for 42 more C-17s by 2011, on top of the 180 covered by the two MYPs.



Source: Flight International