The US Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI) to modernise 184 of its Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules tactical transports.
"The primary intent of this RFI is to solicit industry feedback on the viability of the planned Optimize Legacy C-130 Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Program," the notice reads. "This modification will allow for more efficient operations in national and international controlled airspace for the foreseeable future."
© US Air Force
The USAF is pursuing the modernisation because of new air traffic control rules that are scheduled to come into effect around the world in the coming years.
Would-be contractors have until the end of the month to furnish the USAF with the requested information. In April, the service will meet potential contractors face-to-face to discuss its plans.
The USAF hopes to award a contract in early 2014 and fly a developmental aircraft in 2016. Low-rate production would also start in 2016, with initial operational capability being scheduled for late 2017. The service hopes to have some 30 kits installed by 2019.
The new optimisation effort would replace the more expensive Boeing-led avionics modernisation programme (AMP) to modernise older C-130s. While AMP was a very extensive refit, USAF chief of staff Gen Norton Schwartz has said that any new programme would be far less ambitious and hopefully cost less.
Potential contractors include Boeing and Lockheed, and others, such as L-3.