Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein tells the Daily Report that the service is currently in discussions with Lockheed Martin on a potential new multiyear buy of C-130J transport aircraft and derivatives. In addition to procuring more combat-delivery Super Hercules airplanes, Stein said Wednesday the Air Force wants to purchase modified “J” models to replace elderly HC-130 tankers used by Air Combat Command for combat search and rescue and older Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130 special-mission platforms. She would not specify the exact terms of the discussions. Air Force officials initially played coy following the release of the service’s Fiscal 2009 budget request about whether USAF would pursue another multiyear deal even though service budget documents showed plans for the purchase of 32 C-130Js between Fiscal 2010 and Fiscal 2013 and 32 HC/MC-130 replacements between Fiscal 2009 and Fiscal 2013. The current multiyear deal with Lockheed Martin expires in this fiscal year. It covered the purchase of 62 C-130Js (42 USAF combat-delivery airlifters and 20 Marine Corps KC-130J tankers). If analysis indicates that a new multiyear deal would result in “substantial savings” and comply with Title 10 requirements, then the service would request Congressional approval for it, Stein said. Notionally the new multiyear would start in Fiscal 2010.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.