With the C-130J Block 7.0 configuration in flight trials, Lockheed Martin received a $167 million contract from the Air Force to develop a follow-on Block 8.1 package, announced the company. Currently equipped to the Block 6.0 standard, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Super Hercules aircraft will receive protected communication, navigation, air-traffic-management, and identification avionics, in addition to physical enhancements like covert operations lighting under the Block 8.1 upgrade. “Throughout its history, the C-130 has constantly changed and adapted to ensure it is always relevant and meeting the latest operational requirements,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed’s C-130 program vice president. In addition to US aircraft, the company said it will also offer the upgrade option to international C-130J operators. “The Block Upgrade Program ensures interoperability across the worldwide C-130J fleet. This sophisticated degree of commonality . . . is one reason the proven Hercules is in such high demand,” added Martin.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.