“Some people don’t need satellite communications. Some people don’t need to have encrypted radios. Some people just need a truck,” quipped LM PR spokesman Jeff Rhodes to Around Town last week.
An “X” designation on an airplane usually designates “experimental” status. But in this case, the X will stand for “Expandable,” explained LM VP and site GM Shan Cooper.
“The structure of the J is proven and sound and will remain the same,” she explained. “But the XJ will be aimed at customers who may not need all the capabilities of the J. It gives them options.”
She compared it to shopping for a car and deciding what options you want on it.
“This will allow us to better customize the plane to what the customers need, so I think people will be really excited about that. You’ll still get that same proven demonstrated performance of a C-130J. This just gives you more options.”
Depending on how the customer wants the XJ configured, it will cost about 10 to 20 percent less than the fully equipped model, which runs around $76 million.
“That was the key — making sure we could offer a significantly lower priced version to our customer base,” Cooper said.
Reported potential customers for the new model include the U.S. Forest Service and the South African Air Force. The XJ, like the J, will have the same familiar exterior profile and be powered by four massive Rolls-Royce turboprop engines.
The J has been the world’s foremost tactical military airlifter throughout its history, but now is being challenged by the European-built Airbus Military A400M and the Kawasaki C-2 (the latter of which cannot be sold outside Japan). Also threatening its status are a pair of jet-powered tactical airlifters, the Brazilian-built Embraer KC-390 and the Ukrainian/Russian-built Antonov An-178.
Lockheed plans to unveil the XJ to international customers at the Singapore Air Show and to domestic customers at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, both next month.
MEANWHILE, the 2,400th Hercules produced in Marietta has rolled out. It’s an MC-130J Combat Shadow II assigned to the USAF Special Operations Command and has been delivered to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N. Mex.
C-130Js are in production for the Air Force and Marine Corps, Iraq, Israel, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Oman and Tunisia. The Js are also flown by Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the Coast Guard. As noted before, the C-130 is the longest continuously produced military aircraft in history.
WHY WOULD a highly respected lawyer at one of Cobb’s “prestige” legal firms — Chamber insider Ben Mathis Jr. of Marietta — want to be appointed to the Development Authority of Cobb County? The position is an unpaid one; offers nothing in the way of prestige; is not a stepping-stone to something better; and has been nothing but a rubber stamp for whatever the county commission chairman wants.
Moreover, the tale of its efforts knocking on doors to promote Cobb as a place to relocate one’s business to has been proven by recent MDJ stories to be a charade: The Authority plays no role in determining the size or recipients of the tax breaks it doles out. It does whatever the commission chair decrees, and through the years has voted to approve tax breaks for companies without knowing — or believe it or not, without asking — about the details during its ultra-brief meetings. In short, in addition to approving two or three tax incentives per year, the Authority also has functioned partly as a conduit to help funnel public dollars from the county government to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
And for those who don’t believe the Authority marches in lockstep with the county commission chairman, here’s what Authority attorney George Dozier told the Journal last fall: “We would not do a bond issue (a tax incentive to a developer) that the chairman did not support. … We are not interested in picking a fight with the Commission.”
The Cobb Commission shot down Chairman Tim Lee’s appointment of Mathis and Bob Morgan on Jan. 23 as part of a power struggle over whether nominees to those seats on the seven-member authority should be named by the chairman or the district commissioners.
Some are speculating that the Mathis appointment was to be the first step by toward edging incumbent Authority Chair Don Wix aside. Wix has clashed with his board’s two newest members, Thea Powell and Donna Rowe, who are both reform minded and, it is said, consider Wix to be patronizing.
COBB COMMISSION CHAIRMAN Tim Lee has been virtually the only local official to agree that local governments and schools need to ante up, big time, to support the Chamber’s newly unveiled “Competitive EDGE” redevelopment program. The Chamber has hit a stone wall with the proposal, with the rest of the Cobb Commission giving the “thumbs down” to funding it and with Chamber head Demming Bass already signaling the program can go forward without public money. It’s the latest effort by the Chamber to get control of the county government’s economic development department and its budget.
But the episode is a huge setback for the Chamber, which apparently never discussed the need for such donations of tax dollars ahead of time with the local officials who were going to be expected to “throw the party.” At a time of deep budget cutbacks, layoffs, tax increases, high unemployment and rampant foreclosures, it was an incredible miscalculation by Lee and the Chamber to think the public would have any appetite for spending money to pay for the program.
POLITICAL JUNKIES who watched last week’s State of the Union speech to the bitter end, and then some, would have seen a brief, friendly exchange between President Obama and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) as Obama was making his way up the crowded aisle afterward on the floor of the House. Isakson initiated the interchange, which took place as the men were separated by two or three rows of seats. Obama, back to the camera, could be seen talking to and then nodding at the Senator.
When Around Town ran into Isakson at Saturday’s Cobb Chamber banquet and asked him what was said, Isakson replied the president had spoken favorably in the speech about a housing bill sponsored by Isakson (although the president did not cite Isakson, former president of Northside Realty by name), and that, “I was thanking him.”
Here’s what Obama said during his remarks: “I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.”
Isakson, however, added to Around Town that though he was grateful to the president for plugging his bill, “That was about the only thing in his speech I felt like applauding.”
MARIETTA SCHOOLS Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck, who was named the Cobb County 2012 Citizen of the Year by the Marietta Daily Journal at Saturday’s Cobb Chamber Banquet after having been named Georgia Superintendent of the Year, will be honored by the Georgia Legislature today.
OOPS! Thanks to an Around Town editor who doesn’t know how to read a calendar, we ran the wrong date for the upcoming Martinis & Music at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art. The event is Feb. 10, not this Friday. … “Valari’s Picnic Party for a Cure” in honor of the late Valari Camp, mother of MDJ Business Editor Katy Ruth Camp, will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 18 at The Brickyard at Marietta Station, 129 Church St. The $20 cost covers food and drink, live music by The Cosmic West, and your donation to the Susan G. Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure’s Brick House Crows team, created in Valari Camp’s memory