Lockheed Martin has received a $470 million contract to build the first six special-mission HC/MC-130Js for the US Air Force. The aircraft are to be purchased with fiscal 2009 money, but an initial $75 million in fiscal 2008 funds has been released to pay for long-lead items.
In May, Pentagon acquisition chief John Young okayed the requirement for 68 aircraft to replace and augment the current fleet of HC/MC-130s, beginning with the purchase of 14 modified KC-130J tankers in 2009 and 2010 to meet the immediate need. Initial operational capability is set for 2012.
MC-130P Combat Shadow. Photo: US Air Force
USAF Air Combat Command operates 78 HC-130P/N King tankers to refuel combat search-and-rescue rotorcraft, while Air Force Special Operations Command operates 37 MC-130E Combat Talon Is and MC-130P Combat Shadows as tankers and transports. The plan is to acquire a common baseline HC/MC-130J configuration for both ACC and AFSOC.