Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has begun work on the centre-wing box (CWB) replacement effort for 14 UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Lockheed Martin C-130J/C-130J-30 Hercules transport aircraft, which should be complete in 2027.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Jane's on 15 February that having awarded Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group the CWB contract in July 2017, a further "embodiment" contract to supply the CWB kits was awarded in 2018, paving the way for the commencement of work on the 14 aircraft.
The RAF fields both the 'short-bodied' C-130J (designated C5 in RAF service) and 'long-bodied' C-130J-30 (C4) variants of the Hercules. As stated in the country's 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), the RAF at that time planned to divest its 10 C-130Js while retaining its 14 C-130J-30s.
However, in June 2018 Jane's reported that one of these C-130J-30s was abandoned in Iraq following heavy landing, leaving just 13 in the inventory. On 9 August 2018 an MoD spokesperson told Jane's that it is still the intention to field 14 Hercules, and while this would necessitate the retention of one C-130J the spokesperson noted that the exact composition of the fleet has yet to be determined.
Despite the MoD declining to specify the planned composition of its Hercules fleet, a US Air Force solicitation for a CWB replacement effort for one C-130J and 13 C-130J-30 aircraft released at the same time as the MoD's comments to Jane's has been identified as being for the UK.