Lockheed launches civil version of C-130J military transport plane

Mon Feb 3, 2014 6:50pm EST
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By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote) on Monday launched the civil variant of its C-130J Super Hercules military transport plane, the LM-100J, saying it expected to sell about 75 of the planes to mining and energy companies, and other commercial and government customers in coming years.

Lockheed said it had asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify the LM-100J, which will mirror the four-engine C-130J military workhorse, but without military avionics and communications equipment.

"The significance of that kickoff is that we're expanding the capability of the C-130 enterprise into the commercial arena. That opens up a different market to us," said Jack Crisler, vice president of business development for Lockheed's air mobility, special operations and maritime programs.

Crisler told Reuters that Lockheed hoped to land an initial order for the new LM-100J aircraft this summer but declined to provide more details. He said the turboprop plane, aircraft would be priced in the mid-$60-million range.

Lockheed, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier, is looking to adjacent markets and foreign orders for its weapons to offset weaker U.S. and European defense spending.

Lockheed said it built more than 100 L-100s from 1964 to 1992, and many of those commercial and government customers were now starting to look for replacement aircraft.

Other plane-makers, including Brazil's Embraer (EMBR3.SA: Quote), are also eyeing potential sales of large cargo planes.

"The LM-100J is ... a modern answer to the existing, multi-tasked L-100 airlift fleet," George Shultz, vice president and general manager of Lockheed's C-130 programs. "Our customers and legacy L-100 operators tell us that the best replacement for an L-100 is an advanced version of the same aircraft."   Continued...

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout