Lockheed Martin will provide the Air Force with six KC-130J aircraft modified to fit the needs of the service’s combat search and rescue and special operations forces, according to a USAF release dated July 17. The service had planned to hold a media roundtable this week to discuss the award and its efforts to recapitalize the HC-130 and MC-130 fleets, only to cancel with the early release of the Government Accountability Office tanker protest decision. The Air Force has awarded Lockheed $470 million to procure the six Hercules in Fiscal 2009 and long-lead materiel under a previous C-130J contract, according to a Pentagon contract release. The service included in its Fiscal 2008 budget request about $75 million for advance procurement and development to begin the CSAR/SOF recapitalization effort. Its Fiscal 2009 budget request included justification for KC-130Js as an “immediate requirement” to replace the few in number and heavily used HC/MC-130 aircraft. According to the July 17 release, their increased usage rate has engendered “mounting sustainment challenges.”
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.