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C-130 News: French C-130 Hercules fleet suffering low availability rates

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Only a quarter of France's Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport fleet is available for service at any point in time, official figures show.

According to the numbers, the availability of France's 14 C-130s reached a nadir in 2015 with a weak 26.2% availability rate, equivalent to only 3 or 4 aircraft flyable at any time. An aircraft is said to be available when it can fulfil its mission within six hours of schedule.

France's C-130 fleet, now 30 years old on average, had a 72% availability rate in 2011 but this has since been steadily going down. However an upgrade program was decided on in the middle of the year, with the delivery of modernized aircraft expected between 2019 and 2025.

These numbers, which come in response to a written question from a representative in the French parliament, also provide some details on other air fleets. France's C-160 Transall fleet is even older (36 years old on average) but has a better availability rate of 45.6%, an increase from 40.1% in 2014. That said, the Transall fleet has declined steadily from 46 aircraft in 2011 to 24 in 2015, a factor that could have eased the spare parts situation.

The official record also shows a 48.5% availability for France's Dassault Rafale fighter fleet in 2015 (93 aircraft in service with the air force) with a budgeted maintenance cost of EUR343.90 million (USD364.56 million). The Mirage 2000D is suffering from extensive use in operations 'Chammal' (against the Islamic State) and 'Barkhane' (Sahel area), with a low availability rate of 32.90%.

Although older (23 years on average against 18 years for the 2000D), France's remaining Mirage 2000C and 2000B (15 and 7 aircraft) show a correct 45.6% availability. The total cost of maintenance for the Mirage 2000 fleet (150 aircraft of different versions in total) amounted to EUR309.80 million in 2015.

Source: http://www.janes.com/article/65752/french-c-130-hercules-fleet-suffering-low-availability-rates


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