Competing manufacturers are preparing to submit bids for the US Air Force's Lockheed Martin C-130X Avionics Modernisation Programme (AMP) by the end of the month, after the long-awaited release of the request for proposals (RFP).

The USAF has given contenders until 27 June to submit capability responses and seven more days for cost proposals, with the aim of awarding a fixed-price engineering manufacturing and development contract by January 2001.

The selected prime contractor will have responsibility for the total integration of AMP systems and the Common Avionics Architecture for Penetration (CAAP) package for Special Operation Force (SOF) versions of the aircraft.

Eligible prime contractors have been restricted to local manufacturers and US-based foreign- owned companies. The latter are expected to include Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin teamed with Rockwell Collins, while Snow Aviation is partnering BAE Systems.

The USAF has indicated that the "most probable" number of aircraft to be upgraded will be 519, with priority being given to its 135 C-130H2 transports and 24 SOF MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft. The next priority will be accorded to the AC-130H/U, MC-130E/P and HC-130N/P.

The air force's 10 ski-equipped LC-130Hs will be among later models to be modified, while the seven EC-130Es have been given a low priority and may be retired without being upgraded.

The first development aircraft to be modified will be a C-130H2 followed by an MC-130H. One third to a half of the C-130s will be upgraded at the contractor's facility, with the rest to be completed at government facilities.

No more than 40 will be modified at any one time. The installation of upgrade kits to the 15 EC-130H electronic warfare aircraft will be done under a separate contract by Lockheed Martin's Palmdale facility.

AMP has been divided into contractor-selected commercial off-the-shelf systems and a prescribed list of global air traffic management (GATM) systems. The former includes new liquid crystal displays, night vision-compatible instruments, an all-weather flight control system with auto throttle, moving map, new station-keeping equipment and windshear detection system.

Source: Flight International