Flaws in a fuel tank design used for the first time on a Swedish demonstrator KC-130E have prompted a one-year flight-testing delay, say Swedish military and Lockheed Martin officials.

Twin 6,820 litre (1,800USgal) tanks designed by Lockheed Martin supplier AirUnion have suffered multiple fuel leaks, says Stephan Carroll, Lockheed Martin business development director for modifications and upgrades. Compounding the leaks is an inadequate fuel pump and a poor ventilation system, he says.

The problems have forced Lockheed Martin to ask AirUnion, which is known for integrating water tanks on firefighting C-130s, to redesign the fuel tank system, postponing flight tests set to begin in the middle of this year by at least 12 months.

Carroll acknowledges the experience has injured Lockheed Martin's reputation in Sweden, where it had hoped to secure follow-on contracts for more KC-130 tankers and cockpit avionics upgrades.

But Sweden plans to continue with the demonstration programme after the fuel tank redesign, says Lennart Persson, director of the systems engineering staff of Sweden's Defence Materiel Administration. Persson told Flight International that Sweden continues to have a long-term interest in a strategic, over-the-horizon air refuelling capability, although the KC-130 is not being seriously considered.

Source: Flight International