Okay, so technically speaking it’s the C-130’s newest civilian counterpart, the LM-100J, but it comes equipped with the very same Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprop engines and six-blade Dowty R391 propellers that come standard on its military sibling, but its availability on the civilian market doesn’t make seeing such a massive aircraft doing a loop any less awe-inspiring.
The LM-100J is just the most recent iteration of the LM-100, Lockheed Martin’s non-military variant on the legendary aircraft that has been on the market since the early 1960s. All told, Lockheed has delivered 114 of these aircraft to customers during its production run, which ended in 1992. Now, Lockheed Martin is looking to get back into the civilian-C-130 market, and they knew that in order to do so, they needed to make a splash. At around $60 million apiece, the new LM-100J needs to look like a good bang for a billionaire customer’s buck, and Lockheed knew that simply trotting out a list of improved capabilities their relaunch of the platform touts.
Of course, some of what differentiates this new LM-100J from its predecessors do warrant consideration: things like adding 1,000 nautical miles to the aircraft’s range while carrying a 35,000-pound payload and their Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system that eliminates the need for having a flight engineer on board.
The plane’s improved fuel economy and the cost savings associated with eliminated the need for a flight engineer make the new LM-100J a more promising option for companies that need to land and offload supplies in places where there is no new fuel available. With a maximum range (with that generic 35,000-pound payload figure) of 1,800 miles, the old LM-100 needed to refuel upon delivery in many parts of the world, but with a new range of around 2,800 miles, the aircraft could feasibly make those same deliveries without needing to be topped off while unloading. That, combined with the platform’s legendary ability to land and take off from rough terrain, means the new LM-100J could be a valuable tool for companies operating in underdeveloped regions of the world like Africa.