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Lockheed offers C-130J for JCA requirement

by Graham Warwick in Washington DC

Lockheed Martin has formally offered the C-130J for the US Army/Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) requirement, claiming the four-engine transport offers 40% lower life-cycle costs than its smaller, two-engine competitors. Lockheed argues the C-130J’s greater capability and established infrastructure will offset its higher price.

Bids for the initial 33 aircraft were submitted on 7 June. L-3 Communications, teamed with Alenia North America and Boeing, has offered Alenia’s 31.8t C-27J. Raytheon, with EADS Casa North America, submitted two proposals, based on EADS Casa’s 16.5t CN-235 and larger, 23.2t C-295.

Lockheed has proposed the short-body, 74.4t C-130J, essentially the KC-130J tanker already in production for the US Marine Corps minus the aerial refuelling capability, says vice-president business development Rob Weiss.

He will not comment on price, which is in the “mid-60s” under the current C-130J multi-year procurement.

The Raytheon/EADS team has chosen Mobile, Alabama as its JCA final-assembly site, and L-3 Integrated Systems/Alenia Aeronautica joint venture Global Military Aircraft Systems will announce by the end of the month where in the USA it plans to assemble the C-27J.

“Boeing will have a role in full-rate production of the aircraft,” says L-3 IS president Bob Drewes, but whether its role will be subassembly or final assembly has not been disclosed. Initial aircraft would be delivered from Italy, “but we will move 100% of C-27J production to the USA for full-rate production”, he says.

The initial 33 aircraft are to replace US Army Shorts C-23 Sherpas, but the JCA request for proposals (RFP) laid out a potential requirement for 145 intra-theatre transports.

Congress has cut initial funding for the JCA from the fiscal year 2007 budget, arguing the US Air Force has yet to define its requirements. The US Army is working to get the funding restored, saying it urgently needs more capable and survivable aircraft to replace the Sherpas.

US Marine Corps KC-130J 
© US Marine Corps

Lockheed's offer is based on the KC-130J airframe

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