Lockheed Martin has announced the delivery of the 400th C-130J Hercules, with the milestone aircraft being handed over to the US Air Force’s Special Operations Command (AFSOC).
The delivery, announced on 12 February, saw an MC-130J Commando II special mission Hercules aircraft handed over to AFSOC ahead of its planned conversion into an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. It will be assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field in Florida.
To date, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 2,500 C-130s of all variants to nearly 70 countries since the type first flew in the 1950s, despite the legendary aircraft designer and founder of Lockheed's secret Skunk Works research and development division, Kelly Johnson, famously saying that the company would sell no more than 100 of them.
Despite having been in continuous production for nearly 70 years (an aviation record), the C-130's future prospects look bright on the back of a USD10 billion contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in August 2016 to support all remaining C-130J Hercules production for a further 10 years. While no aircraft numbers were disclosed, a Justification and Approval notice issued by the Pentagon shortly after stated that an estimated 100 C-130Js for the US and Foreign Military Sales customers would be covered by the deal.
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