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    Started out at Pope 86-90, then on to Yokota from 90-94, McGuire 94-97, Osan 97-98, then to Kadena (18 WG) 98-04, Edwards 04-06 then to Robins (06-present) in the AF Corrosion Prgm Office
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  1. How Air Force maintainers achieved a rare perfect inspection on a 49-year-old aircraft “This rarely happens, especially on an aircraft nearly a half-century old.” By David Roza | Published Sep 28, 2022 10:38 AM Airmen assigned to the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron celebrate their achievements in getting an EC-130H Compass Call to zero discrepancies at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force). Johnnie Walker has its Black Label whiskey; American Express has its Black Card; and Metallica and Jay-Z each have their own Black Albums. But when it comes to maintaining aircraft in the U.S. Air Force, few things are more rare or distinguished than a black letter status aircraft, meaning an aircraft that has zero maintenance issues. Thanks to the hard work of its maintenance airmen, an Air Force EC-130H electronic warfare aircraft named “Caesar” just received black-letter status following an inspection at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. In a branch where even the youngest fighter jets rarely achieve such status, the black letter EC-130H is a remarkable accomplishment. Caesar is a seasoned 49 years old: the turboprop plane was first delivered to the Air Force in 1973, the same year the U.S. military withdrew from Vietnam. “This rarely happens, especially on an aircraft nearly a half-century old,” Col. Melanie Olson, commander of the 55th Electronic Group, which flies Caesar, said in a recent press release. “I couldn’t be prouder of our maintainers who come to work every day with a can-do mindset. Their dedication and determination in keeping our aircraft in top shape are remarkable.” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tan Pham, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron acting lead production superintendent, performs a preflight check on an EC-130H Compass Call at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force) The term “black letter” comes from the paperwork that maintenance inspectors fill out while reviewing an aircraft. If the inspector finds “discrepancies,” the term for a maintenance issue in need of fixing, then it gets flagged on the inspection form with red ink. But if there are no such discrepancies, then there is no red ink. Instead, the form is marked with only the first initial of the inspector’s last name and the signature of the production superintendent, both written in black ink. It may be a surprise for readers to hear how often maintenance issues are detected on military aircraft. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life with these complicated machines that not everything will necessarily work on a given day. Indeed, the Air Force’s youngest fighter jet, the F-35A, took a hit from 76.07% to 68.8% mission-capable rate from 2020 to 2021, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. Keep in mind that “mission capable” means the aircraft is in good enough shape to fly at least one of its missions, while “full mission capable” means the aircraft can fly all of its missions. Meanwhile, the C-130H and its younger cousin, the C-130J, held mission-capable rates of 65.51% and 77.02% in 2019, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. Keeping an airplane ready to fly is difficult, especially if the airplane is so old that there are few spare parts left to repair it with, as is the case with the A-10 Warthog. Supply issues like that mean some repairs or inspections have to be deferred for years, explained a retired C-130J designated crew chief. “Back-ordered parts, deferred modifications, and deferred time compliance tech orders are what kept me from ever black lettering a C-130J that was delivered in 2012,” said the crew chief, who preferred to stay anonymous. The crew chief said a black letter aircraft is a “super rare” thing. Indeed, one chief master sergeant at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas said in 2015 that he had seen only two black-letter aircraft in his 30-year career. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base credited one airman with being the main reason why the aging Caesar hit the mark. Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg, a hydraulics craftsman with the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, seems to have made it his personal mission to get Caesar as ready as ever. “He’s worked really hard and has even come in on his off time and on the weekends to fix discrepancies,” Tech. Sgt. Korey Brown, noncommissioned officer in charge and dedicated crew chief manager at the squadron, said in the press release. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hydraulics craftsman and the dedicated crew chief for Cesar, an EC-130H Compass Call assigned to the 55th Electronic Combat Group, and Senior Airman Dakota Harmon, 755th AMXS maintainer and assistant dedicated crew chief, celebrate their achievements in getting the aircraft to zero discrepancies at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force) It takes a village to maintain an aircraft. Beyond hydraulics craftsmen like Faaborg, there are also airmen who specialize in repairing engines; electrical and environmental systems; fuel systems and more. But instead of sticking with hydraulics, Faaborg took it upon himself to learn from and help out the crew chiefs who conduct the entire maintenance orchestra for the aircraft they are assigned to, Brown explained. “It’s nice to see people like Staff Sgt. Faaborg take pride in their work,” he said. Master Sgt. Tan Pham, the production superintendent for the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, also noted Faaborg’s initiative. “Many crew chiefs work their whole career to try and achieve a black-letter initial aircraft,” he said. “Doing this as a maintainer who doesn’t even hold a crew chief [Air Force Specialty Code] speaks volumes about Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg’s work ethic, determination and leadership.” Pham explained that achieving black letters also “takes persistent coordination with all seven specialties within our squadron and the support from our teammates at our host wing’s maintenance group.” Pham gave a shout-out to Senior Airman Dakota Harmon, an assistant dedicated crew chief, and Caesar’s prior dedicated crew chiefs, including Senior Airman Riley Smith, for building Caesar’s momentum towards black letter status “over two years ago,” he said. Faaborg, who was recently appointed as a dedicated crew chief in recognition for his work on Caesar, explained why black letter status is a rare thing. “We accomplished something that no one here has ever really seen, and it was hard because every little thing on the plane can be a write-up,” he said in the press release. “Having no discrepancies is pretty tough, especially when working with aged aircraft.” A U.S. Air Force EC-130H Compass Call from the 55th Wing prepares for in-flight refueling from a 155th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker during exercise Emerald Flag over the Gulf of Mexico, Dec. 3, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Hoskins/U.S. Air Force) The black letter status is just the latest in a long line of accomplishments for the 55th Electronic Group, whose EC-130Hs have saved the lives of U.S. and friendly troops for decades. One of its units, the 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, was deployed to Afghanistan for 20 years, according to Air Force Times. The squadron tracked radio signals to help special operators find people invisible to drones or other aircraft; jammed or eavesdropped on enemy communications; and even disabled remote-controlled improvised explosive devices. In Iraq in 2003, a Compass Call exploded an IED in front of then-Maj. Gen. Jim Mattis, later Secretary of Defense, who said “Compass Call saved my life,” according to an Air Force briefing slide. The Compass Call also flew over the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, where they “were directly involved in saving lives on the ground and in the C-17 [cargo jets],” Compass Call pilot Capt. Taylor Drolshagen told Air Force Times. “Many Americans are alive today who wouldn’t be if we weren’t there.” The Compass Call mission has big changes coming down the pipe. The Air Force wants to replace the aging fleet of 14 EC-130Hs with the EC-37B, a modified business jet that can do its predecessor’s job way faster and over much larger areas, one Air Force officer told The War Zone. Still, the EC-37B has big shoes to fill, especially after Caesar, which received a distinction that few other aircraft can claim thanks to the hard work of its airmen. “From one retired [dedicated crew chief], all I gotta say is ‘way to step and own your bird!’” said the anonymous retired crew chief. “‘Good job on executing your job and leading a team of hardworking and dedicated maintainers!’”
  2. C-130 Seaplane Should Fly In 2023 Says Air Force Special Ops Commander Faced with a potential fight against China across vast swaths of ocean, the amphibious C-130 could soon finally become a reality. byHoward Altman| PUBLISHED Sep 21, 2022 4:32 PM Howard AltmanView howard altman's Articles An amphibious version of the special operations MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport should take flight by next year, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said Tuesday. "We're awaiting the outcome of the 23 [Fiscal Year 2023] budget process that continues to work its way through the Hill right now," Lt. Gen. James Slife told reporters at the Air and Space Forces Association (AFA) Air, Space, & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. "But our anticipation is that we will have a flying demonstration in the next calendar year." That's a change from what Slife said last year. “I can say with certainty that our plan is to conduct a demo by the 31st of December next year,” Slife said last September in a roundtable with media, according to Defense News. Slife emphasized that a flying demo would most likely feature a single aircraft and would be aimed at validating digitally engineered models that the program has run so far on the aircraft’s capabilities. We reached out to AFSOC to explain what changed and will update this story with any additional information. Regardless, this unique capability is still being pursued with the aim of moving to the flight testing phase, and as some would say its justification becomes clearer with each passing month. In an age of increasing concern over threats from China, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been looking for ways to move people and equipment to austere locations in or at the edge of potentially contested areas. Being able to take off and land on the water offers a lot of advantages. The MC-130’s ability to use short, often rugged airstrips has made it an attractive platform to consider for such capabilities. A potential conflict with China would likely have distributed U.S. forces operating in far-flung locations that could be hard to reach with conventional air and sea lift. Marine Corps Commandant David Berger's Force Design 2030 concept is based on prepositioning troops in range of Chinese weaponry. On Monday, Air Force Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach talked about having supplies prepositioned across the region in anticipation of Chinese efforts to cut off supply lines. Being able to take off and land on water has the potential to address those issues and concerns. Decades of evolutionary development have gone into the MC-130J along with large sums of money to integrate unique navigation, communications, and survivability enhancements onto the airframe. So, while there is clearly a tradeoff using a C-130 on floats over a flying boat, for instance, it would be very expensive and time-consuming to fit such an aircraft out with the MC-130's existing capabilities, which center on getting in and out of hostile territory alive. You can read more about the concept and its pitfalls and advantages in our previous coverage here. "We've kind of done all the modeling and simulation, and we settled on a general design layout for the way we're going to do that," said Slife of the aircraft design, which has been dubbed the MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability, or MAC. "We're going through wave tank modeling to make sure that the design that we selected is stable and looks like it's going to be operationally viable for us." AFSOC is working with the Air Force Research Lab's (AFRL) Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) directorate to develop the MAC “to improve the platform's support of seaborne special operations,” AFSOC said in a September 2021 media release. One C-130 amphibian configuration. (AFSOC) "The development of the MAC capability is the culmination of multiple lines of effort," Lt. Col. Josh Trantham, AFSOC Science, Systems, Technology, & Innovation (SST&I) Deputy Division Chief said at the time. "This capability allows the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities for future competition and conflict." But AFSOC would not be the only beneficiary of this capability, Trantham said. "We believe MAC will be able to be used by our sister services, allies, and partners on various C-130 platforms," he said. "Further, expanding the operational use of an amphibious aircraft alongside other innovative tools will provide even more complex dilemmas in future battlespaces for our strategic competitors." In addition to wave tank testing, AFSOC and its private sector partners have been testing MAC prototypes through “digital design, virtual reality modeling (VR), and computer-aided designs (CAD) in a virtual setting known as the Digital Proving Ground (DPG), paving the way for digital simulation, testing, and the use of advanced manufacturing for rapid prototyping and physical prototype testing,” according to AFSOC. Slife on Tuesday said the modeling and simulation “has all gone real well.” “That's the beauty of digital design and doing all this with a digital model of the C 130," he continued. "The wave tank testing that we've done so far indicates that the design that we picked is performing just the way we kind of anticipated that it would.” The Air Force is making “an amphibious modification" to the C-130, Slife had said earlier this month said at AFA’s Warfighters in Action, according to Signal Magazine. “It is not a floatplane. It will have the ability to land on both land and water.” “We ran through a series of testing to figure out, ‘Do we want to do a catamaran or a pontoon or a hull applique on the bottom of the aircraft?’ “ he said at the time. “We went through all the iterations of that. And we settled on a design that provides the best trade-off of drag, weight, and sea-state performance.” The C-130 on floats idea has been around for many years, as seen in this Lockheed Martin rendering. Lockheed Martin Though looking forward to what the MAC would bring to seaborne special operations, Slife was realistic about what it can and cannot do. It would not, for instance, be instantly adaptable, he said on Tuesday. “The amphibious capability is field installable, but it's not like a put-it-on take-it-off for a particular sortie,” said Slife. “It's going to take a little bit of time. It doesn't have to go to a depot to be installed. Unit-level maintenance will be able to install this capability.” Despite the MAC’s limitations and Slife's interest in amphibious aircraft, he said AFSOC will not seek a new aircraft procurement program — one that goes beyond a kit for a C-130 — any time soon. “In a world of unlimited resourcing, I would absolutely be invested in an amphibious capability,” said Slife. “But that's not actually the world that we live in. There are some great amphibians out there. But, you know, we're not, anytime in the foreseeable future, going to be involved in a new aircraft procurement program to get into that. We may find ourselves in a position where we could lease airplanes, you know, for purpose, from time to time." Earlier this year, airmen got to check out the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft during the latest iteration of the Cope North exercise, which took place earlier this year in the Asia-Pacific region. Last November, an AFSOC delegation visited Iwakuni Air Base in Japan to learn more about the amphibian and its concept of operations. At that time, JMSDF personnel briefed Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, AFSOC deputy commander, and 353rd Special Operations Wing leadership, in an exchange that was described as “further enforcing the iron-clad partnership between the United States and Japan.” We covered that extensively, which you can read about here. The exposure to one of the few amphibians in military service today came as the service was looking increasingly at the amphibious C-130 Hercules configuration. In contrast to Slife's reluctance to pursue a new, purpose-designed amphibious plane, China has already developed one. The AG600 flying boat, known as the Kunlong, made its maiden flight in 2017. The roughly 737-sized aircraft flew for a short period of time from Zhuhai airport in Guangdong province. An updated version made its maiden voyage earlier this year, OverDefense.com reported. The AG600 was designed to provide a unique capability when it comes to supporting China's extra-territorial claims located hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland. Most notably the aircraft will be used to support the country's highly disputed and ever-growing man-made island outposts in the South China Sea. China's latest five-year plan, covering 2021 to 2025, identified the AG600 as a "key program, because of the country's urgent need for an emergency rescue aircraft, and especially the strategic requirement for equipment that can serve its far-reaching bases in the South China Sea, Business Insider reported. But as usual, the other military implications of having such a capability were omitted from China's justification. As the U.S. military's focus increases on austere and distributed operations, the amphibious C-130 will likely become more of a priority. But regardless, if things go as planned, we should finally see a C-130 floatplane within a year. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/c-130-seaplane-should-fly-in-2023-says-air-force-specops-commander?utm_campaign=trueanthem_AI&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_term=thedrive&fbclid=IwAR3_1YxL3X66m3wlAgflN1sQiLED836i0k8xEhGPU6Gddl7olNbJ5nCFFl0&mibextid=4td405
  3. Farewell to the EC-130J Commando Solo III, the plane of the USAF for psychological operations9·19·2022 · 6:53 0 Last Saturday, September 17, one of the most unknown specialized military aircraft of all those in the US made its last flight. That day, the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the United States Air Force (USAF), a unit attached to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, made its last broadcast flight with its Lockheed EC-130J Commando Solo III, a plane specialized in psychological operations (PsyOps), that is, it is dedicated to broadcasting messages whose purpose is to persuade the enemy. An EC-130J Commando Solo III photographed from a KC-135T air tanker in October 2020. This aircraft is easy to recognize by the emissions antennas on its drift and under the wings, and by the large tanks it carries near the edge of the wings, probably with electronic equipment (Photo: USAF). The aforementioned unit of the USAF was created in 1967, the same year as the creation of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (4th POG) of the US Army Special Forces. Both units have been historically linked despite belonging to different branches of the US Armed Forces. Basically, the 4th POG elaborated the messages issued by the planes of the 193rd Wing, initially equipped with five Lockheed EC-121S Coronet Solo, a psychological warfare version of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. Two of these aircraft were deployed to Thailand in 1970, to broadcast in Cambodia. Operators of the emission systems of an EC-130J Commando Solo III during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East, in September 2017 (Photo: USAF). In March 1979, the 193rd Wing received its first Lockheed EC-130E Volant Solo, a version of the famous C-130 Hercules specially modified to carry out psychological warfare missions. Its first deployment in combat was in 1983 on the island of Grenada, during Operation Urgent Fury, directing broadcasts to the civilian population of the island with information about that operation. The unit was redeployed to Panama in 1989, during Operation Just Cause, and to Saudi Arabia in 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Volant Solos (renamed Command Solos in 1990) not only had the ability to carry out television and radio broadcasts to spread messages, but they could also gather intelligence and jam enemy broadcasts. . One of the systems operators of an EC-130J Commando Solo III during a mission in the Middle East in 2017. These aircraft usually carry out their missions at night to make it difficult to detect them in hostile territories (Photo: USAF). In 1992, the 193rd Wing’s EC-130E Commando Solos were upgraded to the Commando Solo II version. Two years later, in 1994, the unit was deployed to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy, contributing with its messages to the fall of the military dictatorship established through a coup in 1991 and facilitating the transition to democracy in the country. The unit was deployed in 1997 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in support of the United stabilization mission in the former Yugoslavia, and in 1998 in Iraq, to persuade the regime of Saddam Hussein to comply with UN resolutions. In 2001, Commando Solo IIs were deployed to Afghanistan at the start of the War on Terror, during which they also redeployed again to Iraq in 2003. A photo that allows you to observe the antennas of an EC-130J Commando Solo III in its drift and in the tail (Photo: USAF). In 2004 the EC-130Es were replaced by EC-130J Commando Solo III, the psychological warfare version of the C-130J Super Hercules. Significantly, despite their 18 years of service (not a long time compared to other aircraft), the withdrawal of the EC-130J comes a year after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and without Let there be a substitute in sight. Everything seems to indicate that these airborne psychological operations are coming to an end, perhaps because they prefer to opt for other solutions such as satellite broadcasts and the Internet. Currently, the 193rd Wing had three EC-130Js in service. The fate of these aircraft has not been reported. You can see here the final flight of the EC-130J. The video shows some of the emission systems inside the plane, which used to fly with a crew of between six and ten people: https://youtu.be/ukP8QkSNgyQ
  4. Last USAF H model was 5434, 96-7325 and still flying. As mentioned above, 5435 is JASDAF and LMCO #5436 was not used.
  5. LOUISVILLE, KY, UNITED STATES 09.11.2022 Story by Dale Greer 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Subscribe 13 The 123rd Airlift Wing welcomed its eighth C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Aug. 25, completing the unit’s transition from legacy C-130H transports. The wing had been flying H models since 1992. It said farewell to the last of those on Sept. 24, 2021, and began receiving new J models from Lockheed-Martin Corp. on Nov. 6. The C-130J Super Hercules is the latest version in the Air Force arsenal, with modern instrumentation, more efficient engines and a stretched fuselage for additional payload capacity. It is among the most versatile aircraft ever built, supporting a broad range of missions from special operations to air cargo with capabilities that allow it to land on austere runways where other airlifters can’t go. The wing’s commander, Col. Bruce Bancroft, said that extra payload capacity is significant. “The C-130J has often been referred to as the stretch model,” Bancroft noted. “This means there are two additional pallet positions for equipment on top of the six pallet positions that are normally associated with what we refer to as legacy C-130s. So what's the big deal about two more pallet positions? Well, that's thousands of pounds of additional combat resupply equipment for our warfighter on every single sortie. “That's thousands of pounds of additional food, water, shelter, blankets and relief equipment on every single sortie for our citizens who have been displaced from their homes due to hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes — citizens whose worlds have been turned upside down; are cold, tired and hungry, and can't afford to wait. The C-130J delivers the capability to meet that immediate need, be it across the Commonwealth, across the nation or across the ocean. “With a total payload of over 44,000 pounds, six-bladed composite propellers, a maximum speed of 410 miles an hour, and a capacity for 97 litters of medical evacuees, 128 combat troops or 92 paratroopers, the C-130J truly defines superiority in tactical airlift. A digital avionics cockpit, liquid crystal displays, heads-up displays and state-of-the-art navigational equipment will directly impact the effectiveness, efficiency, situational awareness and safety of our aircrews, all resulting in an increased ability to answer our nation's call day or night, any place, any time.” All eight of the wing’s former H-model aircraft were transferred to the 166th Airlift Wing at the Delaware Air National Guard.
  6. Our First Look At An AC-130J Ghostrider Gunship’s New 105mm Gun The Air Force’s AC-130J Ghostrider gunships have begun receiving replacements for their Vietnam War-era 105mm howitzers. byJoseph Trevithick, Oliver ParkenAug 31, 2022 6:49 PM An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 17th Special Operation Squadron fitted with a new 105mm howitzer, with insets showing a close-up of the howitzer and prototype of the design. USAF/ USN Photos from a recent event at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, provide our first look at a U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship equipped with an upgraded 105mm howitzer. This follows an announcement from the U.S. Navy earlier this year that it had delivered at least one prototype of a gun that is intended to replace the existing, aging M102 howitzers that have been used on various AC-130 gunship variants for decades now. The new howitzer was seen installed on an Air Force AC-130J belonging to the 17th Special Operations Squadron during an "honorary commander flight event" for prominent members of the community from the nearby city of Clovis, New Mexico, held on August 24, 2022. Pictures from the ground tour and flight demonstration show these 'honorary commanders' standing next to the rear rear-left side of the aircraft’s fuselage, as well as inside, with the new gun clearly visible. City of Clovis 'honorary commanders' receive a tour and safety brief on a U.S. Air Force 17th Special Operations Squadron AC-130J Ghostrider gunship during an honorary commander flight event on Aug. 24, 2022, at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. The new 105mm howitzer is seen sticking out of the rear left side of the fuselage. USAF It remains unclear how much, if anything, the Navy's 105mm howitzer shares with the original M102. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division previously described the weapon as being "upgraded," rather than entirely new. The replacement design has also been referred to generically as a Gun Aircraft Unit (GAU), but its full designation is unknown. A picture of an older M102, readily identifiable by the triangular section behind the flash hider, installed on an AC-130J gunship. USAF A picture of one of the prototypes of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division's 105mm "GAU." USN The recent pictures AC-130J with the gun installed at Cannon make clear that the new design at least features a distinctly different recoil mechanism, which includes two cylinders side-by-side on top instead of a single one. An 'honorary commander' and an AC-130J gunner with the 17th Special Operations Squadron firing the aircraft's 105mm gun. The side-by-side recoil cylinders on top of the new 105mm howitzer are visible at the bottom left of this picture. USAF A picture of an M102 howitzer inside an AC-130U gunship, showing the single recoil cylinder on top. USAF In addition, the pictures of the prototype that the Navy released in January showed a threaded section on the front of the barrel that we now know is designed to accept a new style of flash hider. A close-up image of the AC-130J's howitzer. A flash hider has been attached to the end of the barrel. USAF Engineers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division stand in front of a prototype of the new 105mm howitzer with an exposed threaded section at the muzzle end of the barrel. USN "The previous iteration of the AC-130’s 105mm gun system comprised the M102 howitzer and M137A1 recoil mechanism, which are no longer supported by the Army, meaning that an upgrade was necessary due to obsolescence and advancements in technologies since the original recoil mechanism was designed," according to a release from Naval Sea Systems Command in January. "The upgrades to the 105mm GAU are sweeping, however, the engineers at Dahlgren were careful to ensure that the functionality, accuracy, and usability of the weapon remain largely the same." "We’ve described [the development process] as peeling back an onion," Matthew Buckler, an engineer at Dahlgren who helped develop the gun, had said in a statement included in the January release. "You get the most immediate issue and solve that one. Then when you solve that one, something else becomes more important and you kind of just keep peeling it back until you’ve essentially solved all of your major issues and you can live with whatever the maintenance interval may be." The Air Force had originally planned to forgo installing the M102, which first entered service as a towed howitzer with Army artillery units in 1964, on the AC-130J, as well as the preceding AC-130W Stinger II. The howitzer had been fitted to every new AC-130 variant before that, starting with a subvariant of the AC-130E, known as the Pave Aegis configuration, during the Vietnam War. However, by 2004, Air Force gunships were the only platforms anywhere in the U.S. military still employing the M102 in any form, and the weapons had become increasingly difficult to sustain. A Vietnam War-era picture showing an M102 howitzer removed from an AC-130E Pave Aegis gunship. So, the plan had been for the AC-130Js and Ws to be primarily armed with a variety of precision-guided munitions, along with a single GAU-23/A 30mm Bushmaster II automatic cannon. However, an 105mm howitzers offers distinct capabilities compared to guided missiles and bombs, as well as and smaller caliber guns, that are valuable in various situations against a variety of target sets. For instance, the howitzer can bring a significant amount of firepower to bear on relatively small targets, whether they be bunkers or other obstacles, armored vehicles, or enemy forces in the open, and then readily shift its focus to new ones. The gun offers added flexibility by being able to fire different types of ammunition, including air-bursting rounds, from one shot to the next. One of the 'honorary commanders' prepares to load a 105mm practice round into the howitzer onboard the AC-130J during the community engagement event at Cannon on August 24. U.S. Air Force photo. The Air Force subsequently changed course and decided to integrate the M102 onto the AC-130J and AC-130W. The new Navy-developed design will help ensure that the Air Force's gunships can continue to offer this kind of support for the foreseeable future. The integration of this gun onto the AC-130J is perhaps doubly important given that the Ghostiders are moving ever closer to being the only gunships in service. The Air Force retired the AC-130U Spooky II in 2020 and it plans to have sent all of the AC-130Ws to the Bone Yard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona by the end of next year. It is not immediately clear how many AC-130Js the Air Force has at present, but the service said in 2021 that expected to eventually acquire a fleet of 37 Ghostriders in total. The 17th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon received its first example last July. It is similarly unclear how many of the AC-130Js that are in service now have the new 105mm howitzer. What appears to be a different AC-130J from the 17th Special Operation Squadron with the Navy-developed gun installed traveled to Hawaii earlier this month. This aircraft has a large version of the unit's insignia painted just behind the cockpit on the left side of the fuselage, which does not look to be present on the Ghostrider that was made available for the honorary commander flight event. An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship with the new 105mm howitzer from the 17th Special Operations Squadron at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on August 17, 2022. USAF It's worth noting that the replacement howitzers are not the only new weapons that the AC-130Js are currently slated to receive. The Air Force took delivery of the first prototype of a solid-state laser directed energy weapon for the Ghostrider last year. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) said in May that the laser was still being tested on the ground. Actual flight testing is expected to begin next year. You can read more about the capabilities that this weapon could offer Ghostrider crews here. In the meantime, the Air Force's Ghostriders are already at least beginning to add new 105mm howitzers to their arsenals. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/our-first-look-at-an-ac-130j-ghostrider-gunships-new-105mm-gun
  7. 193rd Special Operations Wing preps for mission conversion MIDDLETOWN, PA, UNITED STATES 07.22.2022 MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- The 193rd Special Operations Wing is undergoing a substantial transformation of its primary mission. The wing is transitioning from its legacy EC-130J Commando Solo aircraft to the MC-130J Commando II. To prepare for this historic shift, the wing hosted a National Guard Bureau-led Site Activation Task Force here July 12-14. “We are at a strategic point in our wing’s history that will allow our Airmen to add to the legacy and be owners of this new and exciting mission,” said Lt. Col. Benton Jackson, 193rd Special Operations Wing Unit Conversion Officer. The SATAF encompassed a wide array of subject matter experts from Air Force Special Operations Command and NGB along with local experts. The intent was to examine the transformation from multiple perspectives, and ensure personnel and infrastructure are prepared in advance for the new mission set. “Change management is very important, and we have 193rd Airmen’s interests at heart,” said Timothy Pyeatt, Senior Strategic Basing Program Analyst and AFSOC SATAF lead. “I was very impressed by the wing’s energy and willingness to embrace this new mission. I feel they’re ready and will thrive moving forward.” Air Force and AFSOC leaders are calling for accelerated change across the service to ensure preparedness for a future high-end fight. The wing’s conversion to the MC-130J enables it to provide multiple capabilities in support of both peacetime and contingency operations locally and worldwide. “We’re evolving beyond the niche capability our current aircraft provide and taking on a core, flagship special operations function with the arrival of the Commando IIs,” said Col. Eric McKissick, 193rd SOW vice commander. “It will ensure our world-class Airmen are able to provide relevant support to our fellow Pennsylvanians and our nation for years to come.” The MC-130J Commando II flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces, by airdrop or airland and air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets.
  8. Maintenance University sharpens skills with joint training in Puerto Rico Published July 18, 2021 By Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs CAROLINA, Puerto Rico -- More than 130 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard completed a week of intensive aircraft maintenance training here June 12-18, honing proficiencies in a joint field environment while avoiding the distractions of home station. The annual event, called Maintenance University, featured classes on everything from changing the tires on C-130H Hercules aircraft to repairing sophisticated autopilot equipment, said Lt. Col. James Embry, commander of the Louisville, Kentucky-based 123rd Maintenance Squadron. The training allowed citizen-Airmen from Kentucky’s 123rd Airlift Wing to enhance their C-130 maintenance skills prior to the unit’s upcoming transition to the C-130J, while also giving them the opportunity to train alongside maintainers from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s new Contingency Response Group. “The Puerto Rico Air Guard has provided a great location with a ramp that fits our requirements for training, classrooms, facilities, a fire response capability and security forces,” Embry said. “It’s a perfect environment for us to not only get our maintainers up to career field standards, but we can also expand upon our training into the Contingency Response environment as well.” This year’s MXU curriculum was designed by shop chiefs to meet individual training needs while eliminating the competing obligations of a typical drill weekend back home. “For those of us who are traditional Guardsmen, this is a really good opportunity for us to spend a week and focus solely on this training,” said Airman 1st Class Audrey Parios, a C-130 crew chief. “This is a great chance to have everyone in the same place to meet, network, and learn from each other away from the distractions at home.” Airmen from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s 156th Wing also appreciated the opportunity to train with maintainers from the Kentucky wing, which also is home to a Contingency Response Group. As the 156th works to stand up a full Contingency Response Group in the coming years, the 123rd was also able to supply C-130s and CRG-qualified maintainers to train Puerto Rico maintainers on night-vision marshaling. “It’s fortunate for us that the 123rd has a CRG with C-130 maintainers,” noted Col. Joelee Sessions, commander of the 156th Contingency Response Group. “When this crew comes here, they are bringing expertise from the CR world to help us train our folks. “One of my goals is to get our maintainers and crew chiefs’ hands back onto aircraft so that they are fully familiarized, so that when we go on the road as a CRG, they are comfortable handling the aircraft that come in and accomplishing the mission.”
  9. Some of these are aircraft that were at Maxwell and went to AMARG a few years ago. The idea being retire them while they still had time left on the CWB and could still be sold off to FMS. First of five C-130Hs delivered to the Polish Air Force In September 2019, the Polish Ministry of Defense issued a Letter of Request to the US for acquiring five C-130H transport aircraft. On 13 April 2021, the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blasczak signed a government-to-government contract with the US for the delivery of these five Lockheed C-130H Hercules' to the Sily Powietrzne RP (Polish Air Force). This contract is part of the US Excess Defense Articles grant programme and has a total value of USD 14.3 million. The first C-130H was expected to arrive in 2021, but it finally arrived on Friday 15 July 2022, at Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze Nr.2 (WZL2), Bydgoszcz. The aircraft will undergo a PDM periodic inspection before being put into service. The final delivery is scheduled for mid-2024. All C-130s will be based at Powidz air base where they will be added to 33.BLTr. This transport squadron is using five ageing C-130Es which are fifteen years older than the C-130Hs Poland is acquiring now. The five aircraft involved were produced in 1985 and decommissioned in 2017. They are currently stored at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group (AMARG) facility in Tucson (AZ). At AMARG, the aircraft will be partially retrofitted with new equipment, made airworthy and fly over to Poland. The serial number of the first ferried C-130H is 85-0035. Scramble expects that the Polish serial number will be 1509 to continue the numbering initiated with the first C-130E.
  10. ‘We’re leaking fuel and we might be on fire’ How a Pair of KC-130J Pilots, Crew Saved Their Plane After a Collision with an F-35 By: Gidget Fuentes June 21, 2022 6:27 PM A Marine KC-130 crash lands in California Sept. 29, 2020. SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The first F-35B Lightning II pulled up to the KC-130J Super Hercules aerial tanker, took its sip of fuel from the left-wing tank and pulled away, just as planned. The Miramar-based KC-130J – call sign “Raider 50” – was flying the Sept. 29, 2020 refueling mission to support the fall class of the Weapons and Tactics Instruction Course run by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. Initially, the plane was to fuel F/A-18 Hornet fighters. But they were no shows, and instead the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 crew awaited the second F-35B to tap the fuel line, which was extended off the external fuel tank under the right-side wing. When the plane came, things quickly spiraled as the F-35B, call sign “Bolt 93,” collided with the tanker. Capt. Michael Wolff was flying in the right seat of the Super Herc as the aircraft commander. Next to him was Maj. Cory Jones, the copilot flying for the first time since the birth of his son. The actions of the aircrew over the next 12 minutes – fighting the aircraft for control and safely landing it in a field with no serious injuries – would earn the pilots the Distinguished Flying Cross, the military’s second-highest medal for valor that an aviator can get. “It was a really violent collision,” recalled Wolff, adding that momentary chaos all happening within “1.2 seconds or something. Not enough time to really react and do anything.” A ‘Hole in the Plane’ A Marine KC-130 crash lands in California Sept. 29, 2020. The collision sent headsets flying off the pilots’ heads and iPads off their mounts. “Anything that was loose in the cockpit went flying,” Wolff said earlier this month during a phone interview with USNI News. “It was pretty violent… I got my headset back on, grabbed the yoke and I got the plane back under control.” The cockpit crew quickly realized the crash ripped a hole into the KC-130J, Wolf said. “You have a slight, some rapid decompression going on,” he said. “And it’s also very loud.” The outside air now screamed into the fuselage, adding to the fireworks of lights and alarms raging in the cockpit. Cascading warning and caution messages went off as the displays lit up. Filled with shock and adrenaline, the crew grappled with the emergency at hand aboard the four-engine turboprop. The collision destroyed both of the KC-130J’s right-side starboard engines. But “the impact did not damage our ailerons, elevators or rudder, so we still have all of our primary flight control surfaces,” Wolff said. “At that point, I’m like, OK, let’s get figuring out what’s going on and the best course of action.” “That’s when – it’s kind of cliché – the training kicks in,” he said. They tapped into what they knew about the KC-130J, knowledge built from hours of flying and training in simulators practicing procedures for handling emergencies in the air and on the ground. Aircrews are famously known for their strict attention to and following of detailed checklists, seemingly unconscious habits and embedded memory built from repetitive training. “We start running through everything,” Wolff said, “and figuring out where to go and communicating to the crew and then outside” to air traffic control. Fireworks in the Sky A Marine KC-130 crash lands in California Sept. 29, 2020. Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers were handling typical afternoon traffic, according to an air traffic control recording posted online, when someone radioed seeing “pyrotechnics” about five miles away “or a collision or something like that?” Several minutes later came the Marines’ emergency call. “L.A. Center! L.A. Center! This is Raider 5-0 declaring an in-flight emergency. Major collision with Bolt-93. We have two engines out and we are leaking fuel and might be on fire. In an emergency descent at this time. Raider 5-0,” Wolf said, according to a recording of the emergency call. Wolff, his voice calm amid the cascading problems, added: “We are declaring an emergency. We still have partial control of the aircraft.” At one point, an aircraft traffic controller asked if the Marines were headed toward the Imperial County Airport near El Centro, Calif. To the south along the long, fertile valley that includes the Salton Sea is Naval Air Facility El Centro, in Imperial County, and to the north are smaller airfields, including an airstrip in Thermal, southeast of the Palms Springs area. An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 takes off during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. US Marine Corps photo. The collision and ATC radio calls prompted chatter about the location of the KC-130J and the F-35B. At one point came the call to keep the frequency unclogged. Unbeknownst to Raider 50, the F-35B crashed into the desert, but the F-35 pilot ejected before impact. The pilot, with the “Green Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, landed safely, with no major injuries, according to Marine Corps officials. Officials have yet to release the investigations into the collision. On the ground, someone camping captured on their smartphone the jet with light smoke trailing behind as it flew down to the ground, and posted the video on Twitter. Other people told local media they had spotted a parachute. Midair Maneuvering U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Michael Wolff, a KC-130J Super Hercules pilot with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), receives the Distinguished Flying Cross from Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, 3rd MAW commanding general, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, May 25, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo Black smoke trailed Raider 50 as fire bellowed from the burning fuel tanks. Inside the Super Herc, momentary chaos turned to a nervous focus to retain control and get their aircraft safely to ground. “I can see the far right engine – the #4 – from my seat, but I can’t see the #3,” Wolff said. The crew in the rear compartment “gave me confirmation that [the] thing was toast, and we pulled the fire handle and [made] sure nothing got worse.” He needed to know if the flames were dissipating or if fuel was still flowing from the wing, he said, as “that communication from the back [crew] is extremely vital to get down safely.” With fuel trailing from the pods, the wing was possibly on fire. With the starboard landing gear obviously damaged, the crew focused on landing as soon as possible. They had practiced scenarios with two engines out, but never with multiple emergencies. “We do train to handle compound emergencies, including two engines out on one side,” such as a bird strike, Wolff said, but “not all together at once.” Adding to the dangers, the KC-130J was loaded with fuel held in the pods under the belly and wings. But there was no option to ease the danger and dump fuel “due to time constraints and the possibility of fire” in flight, he said. The airplane’s high altitude was a plus, as it provided space and time “to build airspeed and begin the descent,” Wolf said. They scanned the area and figured they could land at the Thermal airport, known as Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport. “We had a lot of open space between where we were and there – the Salton Sea and a lot of farmland – and we’re not worried about populated areas,” Wolff said. The crew was on track to land their aircraft on the runway, but the plane started to turn right as a result of the malfunctions and distance, he said. That wasn’t planned as they approached Thermal airport – its 5,000-foot runway sits at 114 feet below sea level – about a half-mile from the runway. Initial Shock, Then Teamwork Marine Corps Col. Stephen J. Acosta, the assistant wing commander for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), praises Maj. Cory T. Jones during a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Aug. 13, 2021. Jones is a KC-130J Hercules pilot assigned to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 14 and was awarded the Order of Daedalians 2020 USMC Exceptional Aviator Award for his actions that saved the lives of his crew after an accidental mid-air collision that occurred during an exercise in September 2020. US Marine Corps Photo A typical KC-130J crew is five – two pilots and a flight engineer or a qualified loadmaster in the cockpit and two loadmasters in the back who also act as observers during the refueling mission. On the mishap flight, eight Marines were aboard, with an instructor and loadmasters getting training to maintain currency. In the immediate seconds after the collision, Jones thought of friends he’d lost in two fatal KC-130 crashes and of his infant son, born just 19 days earlier. Training then kicked in, that muscle memory of checklists and procedures and actions memorized to respond to flight emergencies. Grabbing the controls, he recalled in a Marine Corps video posted online about the incident how he “started moving them and realized that the airplane was actually flying. That was kind of like the shock moment, like, okay … maybe we’ve got a chance here.” Talking to the crew, Jones got no response before he realized his headset was on the floor. He put his headset back on and checked in with the rest of the crew before they all assessed the situation and the damage to the plane. “We gotta get this plane on the ground,” he thought. “We’ve got to do … whatever we can to save everybody’s life.” They’d have few options if they lost all flight control. “We don’t have an ejection seat,” Jones said. “We’ve got parachutes [for the crew], but not enough for everybody.” Despite its right-side engines going out, the KC-130J was still flyable. “We worked together as a team,” Jones said, “and we just took it step by step … for the entire descent until we were able to walk away from the airplane.” Over those 10 to 12 minutes, the flight crew got to work. “You could hear it in the voices of everybody with the severity of the situation, but we all had a job to do,” Jones said. Nobody quit or froze up, and “everybody remained focused on what they had to do because we all knew that it was going to take a team effort to safely get that aircraft on the deck.” “Each person on that crew played an integral role in getting the aircraft safely on the deck, from our flight engineer to all the load masters in the back,” he said. Mission to Land About 10 minutes after the collision, the KC-130J made the approach to Thermal. But “there was no way for us to continue our approach to the airport. The aircraft made an uncontrolled right turn due to getting below our minimum control airspeed,” Jones recalled. Now assigned as a crew resource management program manager at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., he was awarded his DFC medal during a Feb. 28 ceremony there. Outside of the aircraft, farm fields stretched out before them, and they quickly decided to land in one. The crew still had power during the descent. “It was controllable most of the way down,” Wolff said. Nearer to the ground, dropping the remaining landing gear and setting flaps slowed the speed, and “that’s when you run into some controllability issues.” They set the airplane down in a cauliflower field, full of wet dirt, said Wolff, who received his DFC medal during a May 25 ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif. “It was definitely a relief. I’m still kind of surprised how smooth the touchdown was,” he said. He estimates the airplane skidded some 300 to 400 yards before stopping. “It wasn’t quite like the movies where you see you have like a 747 that plows through … We came to a stop pretty quickly,” Wolf said. It wasn’t long before he and the rest of the crew exited the airplane. Lessons and Crew Training Capt. Michael Wolff, a KC-130J Super Hercules pilot with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing addresses Marines after receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, May 25, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo The multiple, simultaneous emergencies the crew faced went beyond what Wolff and Jones had normally trained for in the flight simulator. Lessons from the mishap weigh on Jones’ mind, particularly in his current assignment. “The biggest lessons learned from this event [is] … to continue to emphasize emergency procedure training and continue to make the emergency procedures training realistic for each crew position,” he said, and “continue to make sure that we are instilling that in the new pilots and the new load masters, and that they understand how each person on the aircrew plays an integral role in mission accomplished.” “We work on doing things just over and over and over and over again” to make it habitual and instinctual, Jones added. Wolff said the experience gave their training “a new meaning. You do these compound emergencies in simulation. It is great training. You have to replicate handling a lot of stuff at once, even though, relatively, it doesn’t normally happen. Now this is a case where … you never know what’s going to happen.” “The training that we do works,” he said. “We had eight people … coming together, coordinating and everyone remained calm and just working together as a team.” He’s read the mishap report and believes “the end result speaks for itself how everyone handled themselves.” After stepping away, the reality of what happened – and what they went through – started to sink in. “To be able to walk away definitely makes you appreciate the little things in life and every day that you have,” Jones said. “So it’s given me a better outlook on that. It’s made me … respect the aircraft more and its capabilities. The maintainers that keep the aircraft flying every step of the way, the manufacturer … every piece of the puzzle that went into getting us safely on the deck that day. “Taking that amount of damage – an unheard of amount of damage and still being able to fly and get the crew on the ground – speaks volumes to that airframe,” he said. Aftermath U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Corey Jones, a KC-130J Super Hercules pilot with Fleet Replacement Detachment gives remarks during an award ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Feb. 28, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo The traumatic flight became a bond. “Everyone was in shock that it happened,” Jones said. Although some of the Marines have moved onto other duty stations, they keep a group text and occasionally check in with each other. “Maybe we’ll all get back together and go get our photos there [at Miramar] with our V.F.W. hats on,” he said. Wolff said he was “just happy, that everyone … walked off the plane with maybe a couple of bruises but nothing serious … I’m not sure if it will ever sink in.” That day, Jones had texted his wife, “We just had a mishap. I won’t be home for dinner.” Wolff’s family in Pittsburgh hadn’t seen the news reports that had widely circulated in the San Diego area. He messaged his parents, saying “I can’t discuss the details but I’m fine. I’ll call you later.” The refueling mission marked the final flight for KC-130J, bureau number 166765. The collision and fire damage and emergency landing rendered it a spare parts contributor. It took about a week for Marine Corps crews to remove the aircraft from the field, after investigators combed through it and VMGR-352 maintenance personnel brought in a crane and salvaged parts that would be used for other aircraft. “It was a lot of work just taking that plane off the field and getting the usable parts,” Wolff said. They salvaged the rear stabilizers, the tail of the aircraft, placed it outside the squadron, and painted in the squadrons’ Raider black, as a display and reminder. “We fly as a crew,” Wolff said. “I’m proud of how everyone handled themselves and kept calm.” While the DFC is an individual award, he noted, “it’s still everyone coming together and doing their part. That one single action could be the thing that saved us in the end.” https://news.usni.org/2022/06/21/were-leaking-fuel-and-we-might-be-on-fire-how-a-pair-of-kc-130j-pilots-crew-saved-their-plane-after-a-collision-with-an-f-35?fs=e&s=cl
  11. AC-130J Crews Awarded 2021 Mackay Trophy for Safeguarding Afghanistan Evacuation June 30, 2022 | By Greg Hadley A pair of AC-130J Ghostrider crews have been tapped to receive the 2021 Mackay Trophy, awarded by the Air Force and the National Aeronautic Association for the year’s most meritorious flight. The trophy is in recognition of their actions during the withdrawal from Afghanistan that aided in the rescue of some 2,000 American diplomats. All told, 18 Airmen from the 73rd Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., received the recognition June 30. As the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, the Taliban seized territory at a rapid rate. On Aug. 15, Taliban fighters entered the capital city of Kabul, forcing the U.S. to rapidly evacuate its embassy in the city. In the midst of that evacuation, two AC-130Js, call signs Shadow 77 and 78, alert-launched from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to provide close air support for the evacuating personnel. According to the NAA citation, the crews “maintained visual custody of all American personnel” headed to Hamid Karzai International Airport and provided real-time video to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley. The citation also notes that the crews flew the longest unaugmented flight in the AC-130J’s young history—the gunship first flew in 2014. With the AC-130Js providing close air support, 2,000 Americans were able to evacuate with zero casualties. The following Airmen crewed Shadow 77 and 78: Shadow 77 Capt. Lawrence S. Bria Capt. Sam B. Pearce Capt. Aaron M. Rigg Maj. Joshua T. Burris Capt. Michael G. Shelor Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Mayle Staff Sgt. Kevin P. Heimbach Senior Airman Denver M. Reinwald Senior Airman Timothy J. Cisar Shadow 78 Capt. Culley R. Horne 1st Lt. William A. Bachmann Capt. Ryan M. Elliott Capt. Benjamin A. Hoyt Staff Sgt. Dylan T. Hansen Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Malinowski Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Blue Staff Sgt. Gregory A. Page Senior Airman Miguelle B. Corpuz The crews of Shadow 77 and 78 are the latest Airmen to be recognized for their efforts in the evacuation of Kabul amid chaotic conditions. A number of C-17 crew members, who landed at Hamid Karzai International Airport to airlift personnel and civilians out, have been recognized with the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. The Mackay Trophy was first awarded in 1912 and is on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. A ceremony to present the trophy to the crews of Shadow 77 and 78 will occur at a date to be determined, the NAA said.
  12. Netherlands Selects Embraer C-390M To Replace C-130H Fleet June 17, 2022 The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has announced that it plans to purchase the Embraer C-390M to replace its C-130H Hercules fleet. Secretary of State for Defense Christophe van der Maat wrote to the House of Representatives that the first C-390M is aimed to be obtained by 2026. The Netherlands will become the third NATO member to buy the C-390 after Portugal and Hungary. RNLAF currently has four C-130H aircraft that have reached the end of their lifespan. While the initial plan was to use these till 2031, RNLAF decided to replace them in 2020 due to low serviceability rates and defects. RNLAF also decided to purchase five aircraft to replace the four C130Hs. This is to increase flying hours from 2,400 to 4,000, which has been necessitated by the security situation in eastern Europe as well as scenarios like the evacuation from Afghanistan in 2021. The additional capacity will help RNLAF support units better, contribute to European needs and respond to calamities quicker, wrote van der Maat. The C-390M is also intended to be used in the seven nation European Air Transport Command. The Ministry of Defense found that the C-390M met requirements better than the Lockheed Martin C-130J, which was seen as the favorite. C-390M has greater availability, requires lower maintenance and has better operational characteristics. The C-390M can also meet the 2,400 flying hour minimum requirement with just four aircraft while the C-130J needs five aircraft for this. Due to the expanded flying hour requirement, cost would be between €1 to €2.5 billion instead of the estimated €250 million to €1 billion. The selection comes as a boost to Embraer’s efforts to find customers for the C-390M. In February 2022, the Brazilian Air Force had reduced its order quantity from 28 to 22. Portugal and Hungary had purchased five and two aircraft respectively. Multiple nations like Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic and others had expressed interest in purchasing the C-390, signing letters of intent for a total of 27 aircraft. Recently, Embraer stated to Financial Express Online that the C-390 would be offered to India.
  13. Dear Hercules and Orion Community Members, We are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2022 Hercules Orion Conference is now open. This year’s conference will be Oct. 17–20 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. We look forward to welcoming you back for a fantastic in-person conference featuring content tracks, keynote speakers, exhibitors, and social events that focus on the Hercules and Orion operators and maintainers. Complete registration information for operators, maintainers, exhibitors, and sponsors can be found at: Hercules Orion Conference Home Page (eventscloud.com) https://na.eventscloud.com/ehome/681892?&t=376f618c8fcace69410c00faf0bd1100 Please direct any questions to [email protected] or 770-494-9131.
  14. 130th Airlift Wing Receives 8th and final C-130 J-30 Super Hercules CHARLESTON, WV, UNITED STATES 05.26.2022 Video by Edwin Wriston The 130th Airlift Wing received its 8th and final C-130 J-30 Super Hercules aircraft, #20-5940, Thursday, May 26, 2022, at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, Charleston, West Virginia. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/845053/130th-airlift-wing-receives-8th-and-final-c-130-j-30-super-hercules?fbclid=IwAR0pZKCWP1KJhMiVmGZfYnoW6f43edxUUTnO20rdxNgXatO8iJ8vLNl9HnU
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