Commercialized C-130 beats rivals, crew says

June 18, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The commercial offering of the venerable Lockheed Martin C-130J, the LM-100J, is here at the Paris Air Show, along with its rivals, the Embraer KC-390 and Airbus A400M.

The crew with Lockheed Martin waves off the competition.

Neither competitor can match the LM/C-130, they say.

Glider wing, better engines

The C-130 has a glider wing to the swept wings of the KC-390 and A400M, giving it better short-field performance, they say. The big difference is in the engines.

The LM/C-130 engines enable operations in completely unimproved field operations. The KC-390 can only

The Lockheed L-100 was the last time the C-130 was offered as a commercial airplane. Delta Air Lines operated the freighter for a time. Source: Delta Air Lines.

operate in semi-unimprovemed and improved environments, the crew says. The A400M’s engine difficulties are infamous.

The Lockheed Martin has the slowest cruising speed of the three, about Mach 0.50 vs Mach 0.6 for the A400M and higher for the KC-390. But the LM/C-130’s glider wing and slower speed makes if better suited for a wider variety of missions, including fire-fighting where tight maneuverability is needed, loitering and low-level search and rescue operations, the crew says.

Commercial interest

The last time the C-130 was offered as a commercial aircraft was in the 1960s; Delta Air Lines, which operated the airplane as the L-100 freighter. Alaska Airlines also operated the L-100.

There have been some commercial sales of the LM-100 and the company hopes to land some more at the air show.

The list price is in the $50m-$60m range.

14 Comments on “Commercialized C-130 beats rivals, crew says

  1. In a few industries, a product with more than 60 years of design would continue to be the market leader. I think this story will be no different.

    There is a myth about the existence of thousands of dirt tracks where heavy airplanes are needed. This is simply not true, at least if you refer to licit operations.

    Even in the Amazon, where aircraft, such as the DHC-5 Buffalo, were pioneers in operations for 40 years, today the reality is quite different (FAB nows uses C-295 a less robust but much more economical aircraft). It does not make sense to operate aircraft of 50-70 MM USD on uncompressed lanes. It makes more sense to spend a bit improving the tracks.

    I hope Embraer will soon present a civilian version (C-390), stripped of all military hardware. It would be cheaper and lighter, with less drag and would certainly gain a lot in terms of range.

    • In the heyday of High Arctic freighting with the L100s, and other areas, progressively larger equipment was brought in to improve the airfield. The [brain fade] twin Brit piston-engine nose-loader was popular, operated by Wardair at an intermediate stage, perhaps the Herc at the last stage if runway was not wavy nor too soft.

      I’m wary of controllability of C-130J due much more power with tail moment arm though I recall it only comes in the first stretch increment used by L100s (to get volume in their case).

      Pacific Western and some Alaskan operators used the Her extensively in the High Arctic in the 1970s.

      Economically, you need to have very large cargo that you can’t break down (or is costly to do so) or lots of cargo (as moving a drilling rig had – including fuel to power the rig, drilling mud, drill pipe and casing).

  2. Don’t forget the plane would also be perfect in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Just look at St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands for example.

    • The Pribleoffs are not Aleutian Islands , they stand alone as a group.

      Herc as per Lyndon continues to do to this day, is Deadhorse, Barrow, Bethel, Nome etc.

  3. LockMart crowning themselves here?
    How napoleonically unsurprising 🙂

    • Well with a 60 year production history I think they have a right to brag a bit.

      And their engines do work!

  4. One (1) LM/C 130 could replace thousands of proposed noisy, collision-prone Amazon.com delivery drones. Remember the original Berlin Airlift ‘candy drops’ to kids?

    Picture hundreds of Redmond, WA housewives and kids gathered at City Hall Park awaiting a low-level LM/C 130 off-load…. More fun than Redmond Mayor John Marchione acting as Santa Claus. HO HO HO

  5. the C130 , the intial A version was designed for requirements that were formulated during the Korean War and was seen as replacement for the Fairchild ‘Flying Boxcar’ but with range of 2000 miles, payload of 13.5 tonnes. Those have grown over the years with further development but was to be replaced with the AMST winner in the late 70s. The YC-15 from McDonnell Douglas later being selected for further development into a larger strategic transport which became the C-17
    Maiden flight was made from the Burbank factory, not the Marietta plant where most were ( and still are) built.
    The trouble with the C130J model is that its at the end of its potential while other new competitors are just beginning theirs and many buyers have long range requirements and cant afford two types

    • until there is some major technological shift, there is no reason to believe C-130 won’t continue to dominate it’s mission space (medium tactical airlift).
      the A400 is too much aircraft for the mission (and not enough for strategic) and a total political boondoggle.
      the KC-390 is (as configured) more vulnerable to FOD and a bit too fast to play nice with helicopter refueling.

      neither of them is significantly more technologically advanced, or cost or operationally efficient. neither has an effectively unlimited supply of refurbished parts from the boneyard to keep maintenance costs in check…

      • Yep. Some had said something about all new A400 tech.

        Same wings, same tail, a few different material and engines that don’t work so good.

        C17 does strategic better than A400 and can get close enough to the fight that the Herc takes over.

        I do think the C-27 has a place in there but the USAF with their big eyes don’t want it (or more accuracy want to keep it away from the Army)

        A400 is a lot of aircraft to risk at Khesan.

        • Problem for Herc is today and even more in the future the hight and width of the cargo hold.
          C-130’s cargo hold is just 2,74 m high and 3,05 m wide.
          A400M has an area of 4 m x 4 m.

          It doesn’t matter for an army to buy 4 C-130 instead of one A400M but the 4 C-130 can’t deliver the vehicles in one piece.

          Even the A400M is stretched to the limits with the PUMA IFV.

  6. Market leader in a market that doesn’t exist.

    By the way, “glider wing” and unparalleled performance from improvised airfields sounds like a 1960ies military transport … and guess what it is!

    For commercial operations the slow speed and low payload-range is bad, the A400M and KC390 offer way more productivity. Especially the latter should have significantly lower cost of ownership and maintenance cost, due to rather civil design and civil engines.

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