Around Town: It’s a Merry Christmas at Lockheed, thanks to Santa, Saudis
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
December 09, 2013 11:59 PM | 7073 views | 1 1 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LOCKHEED MARTIN is enjoying an early Christmas present — the news that it has inked a deal with Saudi Arabia worth a potential $6.7 billion for the purchase of up to 25 late-model C-130J Super Hercules cargo lifter planes.

The planes, like all but the first two of the 2,457 C-130s delivered to date since 1954, would be assembled at the company’s plant in Marietta.

Lockheed says it has entered into an “Undefinitized Contract Action” with the U.S. Government for a foreign military sale of the first two of the planes, a pair of KC-130J refueling tankers.

The sale agreement essentially represents the government’s permission for Lockheed to sell the Saudis three more of the tankers and 20 of the C-130J-30 models, should the Saudis decide they want them. The “30” variant has a fuselage that is 15 feet longer than standard C-130s.

The KC-130s look pretty much like any other C-130 to a layman, but are specially configured to serve as airborne tanker aircraft and have a 57,500-pound fuel offload capacity while in the air.

The deal with the Saudis also would include the sale of up to 120 Rolls Royce AE2100D3 engines (100 installed on the C-130s and 20 spares), 25 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems, support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. governmental and contractor technical assistance and other logistics support.

“We are extremely pleased that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has chosen the state-of-the-art C-130J Super Hercules to replace its legacy Hercules fleet,” said Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin Vice President, Business Development for Air Mobility, Special Operations and Maritime Programs.

“As a longtime C-130 operator, our Saudi partners are well aware of the airlifter’s flexibility, durability and reliability. They appreciate the proven single-platform, multi-role, multi-mission capabilities that the C-130 brings to the Royal Saudi Air Force. The ‘Js’ that we proudly build right here in Marietta will serve them well for decades to come.”

Also standing to benefit from the deal are General Electric Aviation Systems, headquartered in Sterling, Va., and Rolls Royce Corp., in Indianapolis, Ind.


SAUDI ARABIA would be the 16th country to choose the C-130J Super “Herk” for its airlift needs. The planes excel in both combat and non-combat conditions and in a variety of harsh environments, including the Polar Regions. The Hercules also flies humanitarian-support, aerial firefighting, search-and-rescue and “hurricane hunter” missions. The C-130J worldwide fleet on April 30 surpassed a cumulative 1 million flight hours, which were logged beginning with the first “J’s” flight on April 5, 1996 from Marietta.

The Marietta plant has delivered 303 of the J models to date and is slated to produce 24 of the planes this year. They are going or have gone to the U.S. Air Force, Tunisia, Iraq and Israel.

The C-130 has often been referred to as “the bread and butter” of the plant, having been in continuous production there since 1955, the longest continuously produced military aircraft in history.

About 2,300 of the Marietta plan’s 6,200 employees spend the majority of their time on the C-130 program, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Stinn.


TO PUT the $6.7 billion Saudi deal in perspective, the Atlanta Braves expect to invest close to $1 billion over the next four years in the course of their move to Cobb. There’s no guarantee, of course, that the Saudis will buy all 25 planes. But it’s well within the realm of possibility. And part of the revenue from the deal would go to the other companies involved. But the deal still is a big one for Cobb.


THOSE ENJOYING baseball at the Braves new stadium a couple of years hence won’t have a view of the Atlanta skyline anymore like they do at Turner Field — but they’ll have plenty of C-130s to look at and listen to as they arrive and depart from the Lockheed runway just over the horizon.


PAYBACK? Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead of east Cobb almost saw himself booted unceremoniously off that board at its meeting on Wednesday.

Leithead has long been seen as “an insider’s insider” in metro development circles and a smooth spokesman for the ARC’s “regionalist” agenda, which often translates to “whatever’s best for Inside-the-Perimeter.”

But Leithead, who in addition chairs the Cumberland Community Improvement District board, was also an outspoken supporter of the Atlanta Braves’ recent decision to move to Cobb. In fact, that board quickly voted to commit $10 million toward transportation improvements to help the new stadium.

The Braves’ decision, suffice it to say, has been wildly unpopular with many Atlanta pundits, sportswriters and politicos. Many on the ARC board apparently suspect that Leithead knew about the pending move well before it was made public, and Saporta Report newsletter editor Maria Saporta all but accused Leithead of duplicity in a recent column for supporting it.


THE ARC BOARD met in executive session Wednesday to elect new “citizen” members, i.e., members who are non-elected officials.

Leithead is a “citizen” member and the first ever to chair that body.

According to Saporta, DeKalb CEO Lee May tried at that meeting to talk the 23 elected officials on the board into replacing Leithead with Mickey McGuire of DeKalb as a citizen member, but the body deadlocked. The board tried to discuss it further during open session but wound up arguing for 30 minutes about Roberts’ Rules of Order before tabling the vote.

Leithead had already announced he would not seek a third two-year term as chair when his current one expires at year end. But he will continue as a citizen member — at least until the board meets again in January.

The board then needed a record 12 rounds of balloting to elect its next chairman, Gwinnett-based Kerry Armstrong, another citizen member who is senior VP with Pope & Land Enterprise.

Another Pope & Land senior VP, Mason Zimmerman, chairs the Town Center CID and sits on the Cumberland CID board.


POLITICS: Friends of 11th District congressional hopeful Tricia Pridemore of Marietta will host a birthday party for her from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta. RSVP to Ashley Williams at (679) 310-2247.


SUPERINTENDENT Dr. Emily Lembeck and the Marietta Board of Education will have a farewell reception for departing members Tony Fasola and Stuart Fleming from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the large meeting room at the Central Office, 250 Howard St., Marietta.

Longtime Ward 2 member Fasola chose not to run for a third term and Fleming ran instead for the Ward 1 seat on the City Council.


PEOPLE: Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Victoria Turney is just back from a visit to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where she took part in the promotion of her son, Chris Conkel, to staff sergeant. Conkel, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, is a combat training instructor.

And retired Army Lt. Col. Robert “Bob” Hutcheson of Whitlock Heights, who died Nov. 29 at his home at age 97, is believed to have been the final surviving Marietta native to have taken part in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. Hutcheson commanded a barrage balloon battery on that fateful day — gas-filled balloons tethered to the ground by steel cables designed to shear the wings off of enemy aircraft if they swooped down toward the beach.

RIP, Colonel.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 16, 2013
Why doesn’t more of our congressman and senators twist more arms of these sales all this amounts to is a foreign aid rebate program kind of like a GM rebate card or Capital One card we are just getting some of our foreign aid money back? Need someone like Donald Trump to run that program he would get the job done and yes I think he’s S.O.B. but that what it takes doing deals just watch House of Cards. This would be a great program and employee Americans and create more jobs if we don’t the Russians or Chinese will.
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