Lockheed said it had asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) to certify the LM-100J, which will mirror the four-engine
C-130J military workhorse, but without military avionics and
"The significance of that kickoff is that we're expanding the
capability of the C-130 enterprise into the commercial arena. That
opens up a different market to us," said Jack Crisler, vice
president of business development for Lockheed's air mobility,
special operations and maritime programs.
Crisler told Reuters that Lockheed hoped to land an initial order
for the new LM-100J aircraft this summer but declined to provide
more details. He said the turboprop plane, aircraft would be priced
in the mid-$60-million range.
Lockheed, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier, is looking to adjacent
markets and foreign orders for its weapons to offset weaker U.S. and
European defense spending.
Lockheed said it built more than 100 L-100s from 1964 to 1992, and
many of those commercial and government customers were now starting
to look for replacement aircraft.
Other plane-makers, including Brazil's Embraer <EMBR3.SA>, are also
eyeing potential sales of large cargo planes.
"The LM-100J is ... a modern answer to the existing, multi-tasked
L-100 airlift fleet," George Shultz, vice president and general
manager of Lockheed's C-130 programs. "Our customers and legacy
L-100 operators tell us that the best replacement for an L-100 is an
advanced version of the same aircraft."
Crisler said the plane would give civil operators the technology,
reliability and capabilities of the popular C-130J Super Hercules,
which can operate from short, unprepared airfields without ground
support equipment, and allows quick loading and unloading of
equipment at the height of a truck.
[to top of second column]
He said the plane was ideally suited for use by oil and gas
operators and mining companies, which needed to deliver generators
and other heavy equipment to austere locations around the world. The
plane can also be used for aerial spray, firefighting, medical
evaluations, humanitarian aid and VIP transport, Lockheed said.
Lockheed spokeswoman Stephanie Stinn said the civil variant was
certified by the FAA in 1998, but Lockheed let the certification
lapse as it focused the military C-130J variant, which has racked up
over 1 million flight hours worldwide.
Crisler said it would take about three years to build the first
LM-100Js, followed by about a year of testing before the civil
version of the plane was re-certified.
Crisler said Lockheed was also in talks with 12 foreign countries
about additional C-130J orders, adding that he expected several
orders to be placed this year.
He said the company expected the C-130J line, now producing 24
aircraft a year, to keep running until beyond the end of the decade
given continued strong demand.
"The prospects internationally for the C-130J are very good,"
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing
by David Gregorio)
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