C-130 is a very successful aircraft. There is no doubt about it. It is used in many countries and the aircraft fly dozens of mission types without any problems. The air frame is in constant development and the latest variant is C-130J which is also available with a longer variant.
Even the old planes produced in the 70’s and 80’s can perform well and do their job – Polish C-130E are still kicking, seen with my own eyes. But as there is a limited number of military aircraft in each air force, and they fly 30, 40 and even 50 years, at some point the market is full.
Now this could be a potential head ache for the company leaders. They have a good product and there aren’t many customers left… Here comes the LM-100J. From my point of view this is a great move from Lockheed Martin. They have just pushed the boundaries a bit further, broadened the market and can push their great product to other customers than the military. This not the first time that the CEO’s make this move – L100 were produced from 1964 to 1992 with a grand total of 115 aircraft built.
Will this work? It is hard to tell. If it comes to such moves there is always a bit of risk involved but you can safely assume that the team behind this project has made all the necessary calculations. The output of them had to be: we have a go.
So what is the status of the aircraft? The recent press release tells us that the first freighter is moving through pivotal production milestones. Recently it’s body mate was finished and it got it’s wings. So we can say that it born, as an aircraft starts to be an aircraft when it has it’s wings. LM is planning the first flight in the first half of 2017.
We live in the jet era but life proves that there are no solutions good for every job. Propeller aircraft have their own niche in which jet planes do not perform very well. If you have to deliver something heavy to a place where there is no airstrip, propeller aircraft can do the job with ease. A military background is a guarantee that the machine can handle the amount of stress connected with unpaved runways located in the wilderness.
Analyst predict that we will have a constant growth in cargo flights. The Chinese have bought the rights to produce the An-225, largest cargo plane in the world. This tells us much. There is a market for such planes, and on the other end we have the reborn L-100 – the LM-100J which might also find it’s niche. The possibilities are very big – it can serve as a cargo plane, firefighting aircraft, aerial spray, humanitarian aid or even VIP transport. We will see if the analyst made the right decision to push the LM-100J to the market.