Lockheed Martin is staying upbeat about the potential for further C-130J sales in the region, and is pleased with progress on the type’s civilian variant, the LM-100J.
Timothy German, international business development manager for the Middle East, says that the company is still in communication with Saudi Arabia about a deal for up to 23 C-130Js, in addition to its existing order for two KC-130J tankers.
“Saudi Arabia operates legacy C-130s,” says German. “The region is a big market for us for all of our products: LM-100J, C-130J, and tankers. The opportunity is there for us to help them recaplitalise their fleet and expand their missions with new aircraft.”
German also touched on previous, ultimately inconclusive, discussions with the United Arab Emirates for 12 J-model Hercules in 2011. German says increasing unrest in North Africa at the time put the procurement on a backburner.
“There was more scrutiny with budgets given what was going on the the region, and we just never came to fruition,” says German. “We continue to discuss their reuqirement for C-130Js, and we work closely with our MRO partner Amroc, who supports those aircraft.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Whetherall, director of business development for the civil variant, says the first LM-100J has been jig-loaded, and will roll off the production line in early 2017, with its first customer delivery scheduled for early 2018. He declines to identify the customer, however.
FAA certification for the type is anticipated later next year. As the C-130J is already FAA certificated, the work mainly revolves around changes to the new variant, such as its avionics.
Whetherall says it has received a number of enquiries about the LM-100J, noting that it previously produced over 115 L-100 civilian cargo aircraft which are now coming to the end of their life.
“A number of customers like the idea of a civil-certified airlifter, so they can move cargo with their pilots, but they can also move commercial cargo,” he says. “It allows the military to go a lot more places than on on a military-certified aircraft.”