WASHINGTON Feb 3 Lockheed Martin Corp
on Monday launched the civil variant of its C-130J Super
Hercules military transport plane, the LM-100J, saying it
expected to sell about 75 of the planes to mining and energy
companies, and other commercial and government customers in
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 communications equipment.
"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,
are also eyeing potential sales of large cargo
"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.
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," Crisler said.