Sierra Nevada wins KC-130J Harvest HAWK Plus contract

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been selected by US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to support the installation of the Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) onto two US Marine Corps (USMC)-operated Lockheed Martin KC-130J tactical tanker-transports.

The US-based firm announced it had been awarded the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) Advanced Prototype Systems Division (APSD)/AIRWorks Prototyping and Limited Production Multiple Award Contract by NAVAIR’s Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) on June 2. As part of the US$1.6m deal, SNC will install two Harvest HAWK Plus kits onto a pair of existing USMC KC-130Js.

USMC KC-130J Harvest HAWK [USMC/Cpl Paige C Stade]
The Harvest HAWK Plus system expands the capabilities of the KC-130J Hercules tactical tanker-transport, allowing it to provide close air support and surveillance in support of US and allied ground forces. USMC/Cpl Paige C Stade

Mark Williams, vice president of Business Development for SNC’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Aviation and Security (IAS) business area, said: “We’re pleased to continue to serve NAVAIR and the USMC with modifying these two KC-130J aircraft.”

SNC’s IAS is a leading integrator of special mission platforms in the US. Its current C-130-based projects include supporting major AC-130J Ghostrider modifications; MC-130J radio frequency countermeasures (RFCM); MC-130J AirBorne Mission Networking (AbMN) and now the Harvest HAWK programme. The firm adds that this “award marks the first competitive win on this contract vehicle for IAS.”

The Harvest HAWK Plus system has been designed to enhance the capability and lethality of the KC-130J in the battlespace, allowing the platform to be employed in a combat role, in addition to its tactical tanker-transport duties. This integrated multi-sensor imagery, reconnaissance and air-to-ground weapons kit provides the KC-130J with real-time intelligence gathering; target detection; identification; tracking and precision-guided munition delivery through wing and door-mounted launchers. This enables the platform to provide an additional close air support mission in support of USMC personnel and allied forces on the ground.

KC-130J pair in flight [USMC/Lance Cpl Kelly R Chase]
The USMC currently maintains a fleet of 58 KC-130Js. An additional 26 examples will be delivered to the service over the next five years. USMC/Lance Cpl Kelly R Chase

AirForces Intelligence data confirms that the KC-130J entered operational service with the USMC in 2004. In total, 60 examples of the type have been handed over to the air arm, with the latest delivery having occurred on March 31, 2021. At present, the USMC operates a fleet of 58 KC-130Js, after two aircraft were lost to attrition in separate in-flight collisions – one of which involved a Boeing F/A-18D Hornet in December 2018, and the other with a Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II in September 2020.

The USMC has outlined a total fleet requirement for 111 KC-130Js. However, a NAVAIR press release – issued on April 29, 2021 – noted that the service had a programme of record for 86 examples, adding that the additional 26 airframes would be delivered to the USMC over the next five years.