Lockheed Martin is examining the possibly of developing a civilian variant of its C-130J to replace the legacy L-100 civilian-model Hercules airlifters.

There are about 70 L-100 aircraft remaining in service with various civilian operators of the type, says Jack Crisler, Lockheed's vice-president of new business for air mobility programmes. The company expects that it could sell more than 70 civilian versions of the C-130J.

Right now, Lockheed is working on its business case analysis of the new variant, Crisler says. That analysis should be completed by the end of the year. Lockheed also has to come up with a certification plan for the civilian variant, which should be completed sometime next year, Crisler says.

While some of the avionics onboard the C-130J, such as the instrument flight-rated head-up display, would be retained, many of the military avionics would have to be replaced, Crisler adds.

 Israel C-130J - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin C-130J

Meanwhile, Lockheed is continuing to market its Sea Hercules patrol derivative of the aircraft in three capability levels. Currently, Crisler says the company is in negotiations to sell a basic Level 1 version of the aircraft to two customers, one of which is in North Africa.

Lockheed has also come up with a Level 2 configuration that has air-to-surface strike capability and a Level 3 variant with a full anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. The ASW variant would be aimed at customers who currently fly the Lockheed P-3, but who have not upgraded those aircraft or cannot afford the Boeing P-8 Poseidon.

In addition to trying to find new markets for the Hercules, Lockheed is also working to make the C-130J cheaper. Recently the company has partnered with India's Tata to build wing and empennage components.

Crisler says the company is also working to make the airframe more efficient by adding micro-vanes onto the rear of the fuselage - which could lop off 95l (25 USgal) per hour from the aircraft's fuel consumption. A C-130J with the retrofit is being tested at Edwards AFB, California.

The company is also exploring the use of winglets, Crisler says. But since the C-130J is a straight-wing aircraft, that feature may not provide much benefit.

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Source: Flight Daily News