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Meanwhile, the C-130Js are performing well in Iraq and Afghanistan, where its performance suffers much less from heat and high altitude than C-130E/H versions. US Special Forces are also looking to renew their aging C-130 specialty aircraft and gunship fleet, but they worry that platforms like the C-130 won't be survivable 15 years from now.
Both groups have made noises lately about a competition that could involve Airbus' recently-delayed A400M, which breaks through the 20-ton cargo barrier that has stymied several US armored vehicle programs. Those rumblings, and the delay, may have handed Lockheed both motive and opportunity to make its proposal….
With Airbus A400M production unlikely to begin before 2011, and 190 orders already on the books, Lockheed's 2011-2015 deal offers the US military immediate relief for its aging force, before the competition can realistically deliver an alternative.
Costs per C-130J-30 would reportedly drop from $60-70 million in current dollars to $50.4 million in FY08 dollars; the KC-130J tanker variant would be $51.8 million, and a shortened version (which was disqualified from the Joint Cargo Aircraft competition) would be $47.8 million. In real dollars, this would be $59-64 million per plane on average between 2011-2015.
Flightglobal.com has obtained an image of the first Airbus Military A400M flight-test aircraft resting on its own landing gear at the final assembly line near Seville, Spain. The transport is awaiting installation of its composite wing and empennage, together with its four Europrop International TP400 turboprop engines.
Originally posted by Canada_EH
....The Plane is sitting on its own landing gear! lol thrilling I know but still one more step forward. ...
EADS in late October announced a delay of up to one year to the start of A400M deliveries to launch user the French air force, with the late availability of the TP400 turboprop cited as a key cause of the problem.
The EPI consortium - which comprises European companies ITP, MTU Aero Engines, Rolls-Royce and Snecma - recently announced the appointment of Snecma chief executive Phillippe Petitcolin as non-executive chairman, as part of a management reshuffle intended to get the troubled engine programme back on track.
Assembling the A400M includes a specially-designed vacuum lifting system that raises the entire wing to suspend it above the fuselage prior to lowering it into position, where it is fixed to the twelve attachment points by means of lugs and pins. The whole process takes approximately five days to complete....
With MSN 001 now structurally complete, work continues on the aircraft’s systems with "power on", the availability of full systems functionality by early 2008
Based on their considerable experience of specialist aircraft conversion, Marshall was awarded the contract for installing and operating the A400M engine Flying Test Bed in December 2004. In addition to systems installation, considerable structural modification was needed to strengthen the C-130 airframe in order to absorb the massive torque of the 11,000 shaft horsepower engine and its 5.5 metre diameter propeller
Flight testing of the TP400 engine has slipped a few weeks to rebuild parts. But that shouldn't significantly slip the first flight of the A400M airlifter in July or shortly after, although it does mean engine certification will not be in hand, says Airbus Executive Vice President for programs, Tom Williams.
EADS last year had to slip A400M service entry six months into 2010, with another six months considered a risk period
As an auspicious start to the New Year in Seville the first complete A400M airframe was removed from the assembly jigs at the FAL on January 2nd and towed to an adjacent development hangar, where work will commence on strain gauge calibration tests prior to further preparation for systems ground tests.
He insisted the DGA has received no indication from Airbus Military of further delays to the programme, which he said is "still within the parameters" most recently set out by the company. Lureau said his "natural pragmatism" leads him to expect a first flight in "late summer", as opposed to the estimate of "summer" given by Airbus Military.
He still expects the French air force to take delivery of its first aircraft between April and October 2010. The air force was originally due to receive its aircraft from October 2009, but in October EADS confirmed the programme was six months late, with the risk of further slippage of up to half a year
With the benefit of hindsight, he admits that industry may have bitten off more than it could chew with the A400M development contract, given the technical and financial risks involved.
"For a programme of this scale and magnitude this is something we will never do again," he says. "It was probably not wise to launch such a large-scale aircraft programme in parallel with a completely new engine development programme."