May 21, 2020

Simulator production at CAE Inc. in Montreal has received a boost from the company’s Florida-based subsidiary with the awarding of a subcontract with Lockheed Martin to design, develop and manufacture three C-130J Super Hercules full-motion platforms for U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

Announced on 21 May, the CAE USA subcontract is for two simulators for the MC-130J transport/tanker version. The other reconfigurable between the MC-130J and the EC-130J Commando Solo version used for broadcast psychological missions. Delivery to various AFSOC bases is scheduled for 2023. 

“The longstanding relationship between Lockheed Martin and CAE on the design and development of training systems for the C-130J […] has proven to be a great partnership for more than two decades,” CAE USA President Ray Duquette said in a statement.

“The high-fidelity simulation capabilities of these […] simulators will enable Air Force Special Operations Command to continue increasing the use of synthetic training across the overall training curriculum, which contributes to the safe and cost-effective readiness of the aircrews.”

Chris Stellwag, director of CAE marketing communications, confirmed to FrontLine that all the hardware, as with any simulators for U.S. Department of Defense customers, will be built at its Montreal plant, which more than 4,000 employees.

“When the hardware eventually gets to Tampa, CAE USA is responsible for hardware/software integration, acceptance testing with the customer and ultimately delivery.”

While this is a foreign military subcontract, there are no Canadian export control requirement because simulator content, whether for civil or military customers, is basically the same.

Since all militarily sensitive work will be done by CAE USA, “it's really a U.S. product being delivered to the U.S. military,” Stellwag added. “It's just that the metal gets bent in Montreal because we can take advantage of manufacturing scale and expertise at CAE's main factory, where more simulators get built than anywhere else in the world.”

The Lockheed Martin subcontract follows on the heels of a CAE announcement that it had signed a contract amendment to supply a third full-mission simulator for the Pilatus PC-21 single-engine turboprop used by the French Air Force as a lead-in trainer to jets. The initial contract, completed in 2019, included two simulators and a suite of “part task” trainers.

Ken Pole