Upward Trend

The C-130J production line currently has a backlog of 86 airframes, the largest in the program’s history, and manufacturer Lockheed Martin anticipates that the annual rate of production will increase significantly in the next several years as more customers sign up for the medium-sized airlifter. Until now, the production line has squeezed out 12 airframes a year, Jim Grant, Lockheed’s head of customer engagement for mobility and special operations programs, told reporters last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The annual rate is slated to go up to 16 this year, 27 in 2010, and “the market looks like it will be going into the mid 30s,” said Grant. Already Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and US operate or have ordered the aircraft. The UAE’s order for 12 C-130Js came just last month.