Labors of Hercules

The Air Force is using C-130J Hercules airlifters at about “200 to 400 more hours per year than planned,” according to Lockheed Martin airlift president Jim Grant. That means the Air Force is burning them up faster than it expected and should think seriously about a multiyear buy and upgrades, Grant said Sept. 15 at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. There have been talks with USAF and the Marine Corps about another multiyear starting in Fiscal 2011, but nothing’s been decided yet. Neil Kacena, deputy head of Lockheed Martin’s Skunkworks advanced development unit, said his people have been working on ways to improve the C-130’s efficiency with “strakes, vortex generators, props” and other refinements that could yield five to 20 percent better gas mileage.