In a significant boost for Lockheed Martin, a Brazilian logistics and defence group, Bravo Industries, has agreed to buy ten LM-100J Super Hercules commercial freighter aircraft.
The deal signed at the Farnborough International Airshow on Tuesday is the first actual agreement to buy the new generation freighter, based on the military version, the C130J, which first came into service in 1999.
Two years ago, the Irish based ASL Aviation Group, which includes local logistics company, Safair, signed a letter of intent to order ten of the planes. Safair currently operates the older version of the plane, the L-100, which first flew in 1964. The LM-100J is the civil version of the widely used C130J, which is based on the original C130. Another five aircraft are similarly covered by a letter of intent to order, by an undisclosed potential customer.
Lockheed Martin’s Executive Vice President of its Aeronautics business, Orlando Carvallo, said yesterday that US Federal Aviation Administration certification for the LM-100J is expected in early 2018. The first LM-100J is currently on the production line and delivery to Bravo is expected to begin in about four years’ time.
Military operators, who might not require or be able to afford defensive features and upgraded avionics, often use L-100s. Apart from cargo, the L-100s are used on humanitarian missions and troop transport. According to Lockheed Martin officials the C-130J and the LM-100J have around 90 percent of parts in common. The LM-100J is produced in a “stretched” configuration
A Lockheed Martin official declined to give the value of the deal with Bravo, but said the “advertised price” of the LM-100J is in the region of $60 million. Among Bravo’s clients are mining as well oil and gas companies which require equipment and supplies to be sent to often remote rough airstrips, where no specialised cargo handling equipment is available. Bravo intends to establish a maintenance, repair, and overhaul division to service its LM-100 fleet and other Hercules planes in the region.
The military and civilian versions of the Hercules are flown in a number of African countries apart from SA. According to the company its transport aircraft are flown in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Morocco Nigeria, Niger, and Sudan.