Lockheed Martin delivers 500th C-130J Super Hercules airlifter

Upgraded military transport turboprop has been in operation since 1999 and continues to collect new orders despite competition from more modern aircraft such as Embraer’s KC-390 jet

Lockheed Martin reached a milestone by recently delivering the 500th C-130J Super Hercules airlifter. The aircraft is a C-130J-30 (long fuselage version) assigned to the 130th Airlift Wing located at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, West Virginia.

“This delivery represents the thousands of people — past and present — that design, build, fly, maintain and support C-130Js around the world,” said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions (AMMM) line of business.

The C-130J is a comprehensive upgrade of the original Hercules, which hit the market in 1956. Renamed the Super Hercules, the aircraft received new engines, a cockpit with state-of-the-art avionics and other systems. The first flight of the C-130J took place on April 5, 1996 and deliveries began in 1999.

According to Lockheed Martin, the 500 examples of the C-130J are in service in 22 countries with 26 operators, including the US Air Force, National Guard and Marines. The manufacturer also offers a civilian version of the Super Hercules, the LM-100J.

C-390

The option for the C-130J has been expected from countries that decide to replace their old Hercules, although a strong competitor for the Lockheed plane has emerged in the last decade, the C-390 Millennium.

Developed at the request of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), which has operated the C-130 since 1965, Embraer’s airlifter jet has superior performance to the turboprop in several aspects, such as greater speed and payload capacity.

Hungary will receive the first KC-390 in 2024

Despite this, the C-390 still seeks a prominent position in the military market. Since 2019, when the first aircraft went to Brazil, Embraer has delivered only five jets.

In the meantime, the FAB has reduced the original order from 28 aircraft to 22 aircraft, with deliveries expected until mid-2034. Other confirmed customers for the C-390 are Hungary (with two aircraft on order) and Portugal (five orders).

In an interview this week with a Brazilian newspaper, Francisco Gomes Neto, CEO of Embraer, said he believed that the war in Ukraine should encourage many countries to increase investments in defense, which could be an opportunity for the KC-390.

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