Lockheed gets major airplane order

Lockheed Martin

The C-130J assembly line at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Lockheed Martin’s Marietta assembly plant got a dose of good news at the end of 2015.

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April 7, 2015: Gov. Nathan Deal commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the first flight of the first C-130 Hercules built at the Marietta production facility by reenacting the 1955 christening, this time of a C-130J Super Hercules, with a bottle of Chattahoochee River water just as Gov. Marvin Griffin did 60 years ago. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

The major military supplier and arms maker announced a $5.3 billion order by the U.S. government to buy 78 C-130J Super Hercules transport planes.

The Department of Defense on Dec. 30 announced $1 billion in funding to buy the first 32 planes.

The bulk of the 78 planes are slated for the U.S. Air Force (30 MC-130Js, 13 HC-130Js and 29 C-130J-30s, with six expected to be delivered to the Marine Corps (KC-130Js). The Coast Guard has an option to purchase five planes (HC-130Js), according to a Lockheed Martin news release.

Lockheed

A C-130 Hercules transport drops chaff and flares designed to protect the vulnerable planes and their crews from surface-to-air missiles.

Lockheed said the planes will be delivered in 2016 to 2020. From 2003 to 2008, Lockheed delivered 60 C-130Js for the Air Force and Marine Corps from a first multiyear contract.

“We are proud to partner with the U.S. government to continue to deliver to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard the world’s most proven, versatile and advanced airlifter,” George Shultz, Lockheed vice president of air mobility and maritime missions, said in the release. “This multiyear contract provides true value to our U.S. operators as they recapitalize and expand their much-relied-upon Hercules aircraft, which has the distinction of being the world’s largest and most tasked C-130 fleet.”

Lockheed Martin

The C-130J assembly line at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

The C-130 is a workhorse of the U.S. military air fleet and variations of the plane have been in service decades. Its first flight was in 1954. The plane has served in combat in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, and other variations have been used in humanitarian, firefighting and weather forecasting roles.

Lockheed employs about 5,600 people at its plant at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County where it makes the C-130J and center wing assemblies for F-35 fighter jets.

The plane order follows the recent two-year budget deal passed by Congress.

Lockheed and the jobs that directly and indirectly tied to Dobbins have been major parts of metro Atlanta business leaders’ push to keep the base robust.

While Dobbins isn’t on any active list of shutdown candidates, officials had worried that defense cuts under the federal budget “sequester” might lead to Dobbins’ missions shifting to other bases or even a whole new round of base closures. Those fears have ebbed under a new federal budget deal, but Dobbins boosters aren’t taking any chances.

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