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The first C-130J airlifter (designation 51+01) for the German Armed Forces made its maiden flight at Lockheed Martin’s production site in Marietta, Georgia, on 8 November 2021. The German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support announced the news on Twitter, with Lockheed Martin aiming for the planned delivery of the first aircraft at the turn of the year 2021/22. The other five aircraft are to follow at intervals of half a year each. In July 2021, the final assembly of the aircraft with the serial number 5930 was completed. After applying Bundeswehr colours, ground tests were conducted in stand and taxi.

The Bundeswehr plans to operate the six C-130Js together with France from the French base in Evreux. By 2024, the base is to be fully developed (including training facilities and hangars) and full operational readiness will be achieved. The two countries will then have a total of ten C-130Js, half of them in tanker version, at their disposal for transport tasks. The aircraft will close the capability gap for tactical transport from short runways that cannot be covered by the Airbus A400M.