In February 2014, Lockheed Martin filed a design update with the FAA for “a type design update for the Lockheed Martin Model L-382J airplane, a civil-certified variant of the proven C-130J Super Hercules to be marketed as the LM-100J.” In July 2014, ASL Aviation Group signed an LoI with Lockheed Martin for ten aircraft. ASL currently leases seven L100-30s to Safair, based in South Africa.
Based on the venerable C-130, the LM-100J is a “can do” freighter. It’s roles include carrying all sorts of freight using unpaved runways. But it can perform other tasks like fire fighting, oil dispersing, humanitarian relief and even VIP transport. It is something of a unique aircraft.
Between 1964 and 1992 Lockheed-Georgia built 115 commercial versions of its C-130. Of those, about 55 are still in service. L-100s service a niche market. The L-100 is recognizable by the absence of the two lower windows underneath the aircraft’s windscreen, as on the C-130. Another visible external difference between the LM-100J and the C-130J will be eighteen small, lightweight, strake-like devices called microvanes on each side of the aircraft’s aft fuselage near the cargo ramp door and horizontal tail. These ten-inch-long vanes create minimal localized drag. The reduced drag equates to about a twenty-five gallon per hour fuel burn saving. Microvanes are being looked as a customer option on the LM-100J.
The first parts of the LM-100J are now being manufactured. Assembly is expected by year end and first flight is planned for 2017. Based on the earlier market for 115, the LM-100J is likely to sell around 100. While Antonov is a potential competitor, that company’s struggles mean the LM-100J has a clear path ahead.