Lockheed Martin says it is developing a new lower cost version of its C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter.
The C-130XJ will include the same Rolls-Royce AE2100 turboprop engines and Honeywell avionics suite as the C-130J but will drop its automated cargo system in favour of a manual system, the UK magazine Flight International reported, citing Lockheed Vice President of Business Development Jim Grant. Lockheed did not provide details of other internal changes to the aircraft.
Grant pointed to the US Forest Service and South Africa as potential buyers of the C-130XJ, the magazine reported.
Lockheed Martin could also pitch the new variant as a replacement for the Alenia Aeronautica/L-3 Communications C-27J Spartan, a direct support airlifter that is said to be on the chopping block as the US Air Force mulls budget cuts. The ‘X’ in the model name will stand for ‘expandable,’ meaning that C-130XJ can be upgraded to full C-130J capability, Lockheed said.
Lockheed Martin also this month unveiled a design concept of another C-130 variant known as the C-130NG, featuring a new nose, tail and the addition of winglets. Lockheed hopes the refresh will give the 57 year old Hercules design another 15 to 20 years of life.