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Great News from Keesler AFB - WC-130Js Change Colors


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Great News from Keesler Air Force Base


The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the "Hurricane Hunters," is going retro with their aircraft's paint design.


The first of ten WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft arrived at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., on April 5th 2022 with a new paint job and the historic "Weather" tail marking.


"Prior to 2007, the squadron's aircraft all had glossy gray paint, which was utilized on weather reconnaissance aircraft primarily for its durability, longevity, and efficiency," said Lt. Col. Erik Olson, head of operations for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. "It also distinguishes our platform from combat-ready C130 aircraft, as well as 'other' reconnaissance platforms, because our missions are solely for the collection of weather data in peacetime."


The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the Air Force Reserve is the only Department of Defense unit that monitors tropical storms and hurricanes for the National Hurricane Center in Miami in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and central Pacific Ocean. The information gathered by the 53rd WRS during tasked missions is shared with government and meteorological agencies in the affected areas, allowing residents to be better prepared and make wiser judgments when hurricanes approach.


“Working with foreign governments makes providing timely data more effective, whether it's coordinating overflights to reduce enroute time or working diplomatic approvals to fly a cyclone into territorial waters,” said Lt Col Byron Hudgins, 53rd WRS chief pilot. In addition, the WC-130J's return to gloss gray paint scheme shows countries that the WC-130J is there to aid.

We are ‘Hurricane Hunters,' but ‘Weather' better portrays our numerous tasks, said Olson. For better forecasting, we fly reconnaissance into winter storms in the Northeast and into atmospheric rivers on the West Coast.


The shiny paint reminds the 53rd WRS and 403rd Maintenance Squadron of when the J-models first arrived at Keesler AFB.


Hudgins claims he took the last WC-130J to Tinker for tactical paint in 2008. After 14 years of advocacy, I am pleased to see the 53rd WRS return to its roots. We simply had the right people at the right time.”

“The glossy gray paint scheme stood up significantly better to the weathering factors during hurricane season,” said 403rd MXS fabrication flight chief Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Connors. “The glossy gray also lasts longer for maintenance and touch-up painting.”


The tactical gray required touch-up painting on the leading edges of the wings and the vertical tail fin after every two-week storm rotation, whereas the glossy gray required three to four storm rotations.


Returning to glossy paint saves money and manpower, Connors says. It also damages the tactical gray paint to the metal, although the same weather damage to the glossy gray paint does not have the same impact.


Connors also stated that the aircraft will be painted as usual, with touch-ups completed by the fabrication flight.

The return to the original colour scheme excites me. It makes financial sense. “The glossy paint lasts longer, saving the Air Force Reserve money on repainting,” said Maj. Gen. Jay Jensen, special assistant to the AFRC commander.

‘Weather' indications on E-models,' Jensen added. The return of legacy and tradition is welcome.






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