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  1. Air Force grounds most C-130Hs due to cracked propeller barrels 64 Stephen Losey Fri, September 30, 2022 at 5:33 PM·2 min read WASHINGTON — The Air Force has grounded most of its older C-130H Hercules cargo planes and variants due to a problem with their propeller barrels. Air Mobility Command on Friday confirmed a wide swath of its C-130H fleet, which numbered 128 at the beginning of fiscal 2022, is unable to fly, and it’s unclear how long it will take to replace all the defective propeller assemblies. AMC said 116 C-130Hs, including variants of the mobility aircraft, were grounded on Tuesday due to concerns their propeller assemblies are defective, and that inspections over the coming days will show how many of those are affected. AMC said the groundings are “widespread” and primarily affect the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. The unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco posted a screenshot of a time compliance technical order on the groundings Wednesday. On Friday, the page posted a screenshot of a slide that said the propeller barrels in question had been installed in 100 C-130Hs, as well as the entire inventories of eight MC-130H Combat Talons, seven EC-130H Compass Calls, and one TC-130H. In a statement to Defense News, Air Mobility Command said a maintenance crew at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Georgia found a persistent leak coming from a C-130H propeller while test running the plane’s engine after it had undergone depot maintenance. That propeller assembly was removed and sent to the complex’s propeller shop, AMC said, where a technician found a crack in its barrel assembly. Further inspections found two more propeller assemblies had the same problem, Air Mobility Command added. AMC ordered immediate field level visual inspections on all C-130Hs with the older 54H60 model propeller, and then conducted metallurgical reviews and stress analyses, the command said. After those reviews, Air Mobility Command issued another order to immediately replace problematic propellers. The command said newer C-130Js and C-130Hs that have already had their propeller assemblies upgraded with the eight-bladed NP2000 system are not affected by the order. This is the second time in more than three years that significant numbers of C-130Hs were grounded due to propeller problems. In February 2019, the Air Force grounded 60 C-130Hs — at the time, nearly one-third of the fleet — for several weeks due to concerns their pre-1971 propeller blades could crack. Those C-130s had their propeller blades replaced over subsequent weeks.
  2. 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!’”
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Last USAF H model was 5434, 96-7325 and still flying. As mentioned above, 5435 is JASDAF and LMCO #5436 was not used.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.”
  10. 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.
  11. ‘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
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. Lockheed Martin Reaches Super Herculean Milestone With Delivery of 500th C-130J Airlifter This Historic Super Herc Operated by the West Virginia Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing MARIETTA, Ga., March 15, 2022 -- Hercules history is made once again, with the announcement that Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) recently delivered its 500th C-130J Super Hercules airlifter. This Super Hercules (Lockheed Martin aircraft #5934, USAF #19-5934) is a C-130J-30 aircraft assigned to the 130th Airlift Wing located at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, West Virginia. The 130th Airlift Wing is a longtime C-130 operator that is currently modernizing its legacy Hercules fleet with C-130Js. "This delivery represents the thousands of people — past and present — that design, build, fly, maintain and support C-130Js around the world," said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Air Mobility & Maritime Missions (AMMM) line of business. "Like its namesake, the C-130J is a legend defined by its strength and power. Yet, it is the people who are part of the C-130J operator, production, supplier and industry partner communities who truly define the Super Hercules and helped the C-130J Program reach this monumental achievement." The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. The airlift choice of 26 operators in 22 nations, the global C-130 fleet has surpassed more than 2 million flight hours and holds more than 54 world records. Defined by its versatility, there are 17 different mission configurations of the C-130J that includes transport (military and commercial), humanitarian aid delivery, aerial firefighting, natural disaster relief support, medevac, search and rescue, weather reconnaissance, and aerial refueling. As the most advanced C-130 ever produced, the C-130J-30 Super Hercules (which is 15 feet/4.6 m longer than legacy C-130 models) offers these enhancements and advancements compared to legacy models: 30% more passengers and cargo 50% more CDS bundles 44% more paratroopers 30% crew reduction 14% more fuel efficient 20% improvement in payload/range capability Integrated defensive suite and 250 knot ramp/door Automated maintenance fault reporting Unmatched situational awareness with digital avionics and dual HUD
  17. 133rd AW welcomes first eight-bladed propeller C-130 May 11, 2022 (by TSgt. Amy Lovgren) - The 133rd Airlift Wing received their first C-130 Hercules with an updated eight-bladed propeller on May 11, 2022. http://s9.addthis.com/button0-rss.gif http://s9.addthis.com/button1-addthis.gif USAF C-130H #96-1003 from 109 AS taxis to a parking spot on the flight line in St. Paul, Minn. on May 11, 2022. The 133rd is currently in the second phase of the modernization process, which includes transitioning the C-130s from four-bladed propellers to eight-bladed propellers. [ANG photo by Amy M. Lovgren] The 133rd Airlift Wing currently flies eight C-130H3 Hercules model aircraft out of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Last year the Wing launched a three-phase modernization process by introducing the electronic propeller control system (EPCS). The Wing is currently in the second phase of the modernization process, which includes transitioning the C-130s from four-bladed propellers to eight-bladed propellers. The eight-bladed propellers will deliver more power and efficiency while reducing maintenance. Due to increased thrust for takeoff and climb-out, they are also helpful in cold weather and arctic operations. The completion of this phase is projected to end in September 2023. The third phase will introduce a T56 3.5 turbo engine and will kick off in the fall of 2023. "Modernization is one of the Minnesota National Guard's organizational priorities. This aircraft upgrade reinforces our ability to protect our state and nation," said U.S. Air Force Col. James Cleet, 133rd Airlift Wing Commander. "Modernization ensures we have the right forces, infrastructure, training spaces, and systems for our current and future missions," said Cleet. "As our challenges and adversaries change, we require forces, equipment, and training to ensure our national security." The C-130 is a legendary cargo aircraft known for its tactical abilities; it can operate from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops, equipment, and aid into hostile areas and providing medical evacuations. In Minnesota, the C-130 Hercules is often used to assist with natural disasters and state emergencies. Over the last 51 years, the Wing has flown three different models of the C-130 aircraft. The current model, the C-130H3 Hercules, has been with the 133rd Airlift Wing since 1996. Since the Wing started flying the C-130 in 1971, crews have logged more than 213,000 flying hours. To put that into perspective, that would be 27 years of flying non-stop. The 133rd Airlift Wing is one of the two flying wings in the Minnesota Air National Guard. They have a proud heritage as the first federally-recognized aviation squadron in the United States. In January 2021, the 133rd Airlift Wing celebrated their 100th anniversary.
  18. MANSFIELD, OH, UNITED STATES 04.27.2022 Story by Master Sgt. Joseph Harwood MANSFIELD, Ohio- The 164th Airlift Squadron conducted a ceremonial final formation flight of two C-130H Hercules as part of their “Flying Legacy” tribute ceremony, April 23, 2022, held at the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, in Ohio. The unit invited current members, their family and friends as well as prior service members to join them in a private ceremony in order to pay tribute to the historical flying unit’s aviation history as it enters a new era with a new non-aviation based mission. Col. Darren Hamilton, 179th Airlift Wing commander, opened the ceremony thanking those in attendance and briefing an outline of the plan for embarking on the ceremonial final formation flight followed by remarks regarding the historical significance of the day for the crowd in front of a C-130H Hercules static display. “It’s tradition to have a ‘Fini Flight’ for aviators flying their last time. In this case, it’s a symbolic final flight for our C-130 community, a mission that has been our identity in Mansfield since 1976. We will continue to fly this mission into early June when the last of the iron leaves the ramp, but this was our last chance to give it the ceremonial ending it deserves and share that with our past and present members, their families and friends.” Hamilton has been a part of this C-130 community his entire life. He looked into the crowd and identified prior members who helped him along the way, detailing how he first visited the base as a child, later joined as an enlisted C-130 maintainer, took advantage of the Ohio Air National Guard’s state tuition assistance to obtain his degree and commission as an officer, eventually flying the C-130 and becoming the 179th Airlift Wing commander. “The skull patch that you see on our 164th Airlift Squadron is world-renowned. The heritage goes back to 1942, when it was first flown with the 363rd Fighter Squadron in World War II with Aces like Bud Anderson and Chuck Yeager.” Hamilton said, “Then in 1946, they transferred that unit to Mansfield and it was formally recognized by 1948. That’s 74 years, officially, of flying here and if you go back to the World War II lineage, that’s 80 years of flying.” Ohio is home to a rich aviation history, known widely as the birthplace of aviation. The unit at Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base has a very rich history in military aviation. The 363rd Fighter Squadron was established at Hamilton Field, California in December 1942. The skull was first painted on a P-39 Airacobra door and followed the unit to World War II, flying the P-51 Mustang. That wartime 363rd Fighter Squadron was re-designated as the 164th Fighter Squadron and was allotted to the Ohio Air National Guard, on May 24, 1946, bestowing the lineage, history, honors, and colors of the 363rd Fighter Squadron. Organized at Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport, named in honor of Gen. Frank P. Lahm, a military aviation pioneer born in Mansfield Ohio. Lahm is credited for his contributions to bringing flight to the military after flying with the Wright Brothers, of Dayton Ohio. Over the past 74 years of aviation at Mansfield Lahm ANGB, the squadron has been assigned the F-51D/H Mustang, B-26 Invader, F-80C Shooting Star, F-84E/F Thunderstreak, F-100D/F Super Saber, C-130B/H Hercules and C-27J Spartan. During the F-84 fighter era, Fred Haise Jr., flew with the unit before going on to become an astronaut and flew as the lunar module pilot as part of the historic Apollo 13 mission in 1970. The unit transitioned from a fighter squadron to an airlift squadron in 1976, and has remained an airlift squadron until now. Hamilton acknowledged that the transitions from one aircraft to another have always been hard, but this may be their greatest challenge yet. “This unit is historically resilient. Time tested and able to adapt to any mission and get the job done. There have been many mission changes in our past, different air frames and different skillsets needed but the culture has always remained its strength. It’s the people who have made this installation a success in whatever the mission has asked of them and it’s the reason they will continue to make history.” The two aircraft flew in formation, each performing an air drop visible to the crowd and then performed a low altitude pass over the historic hangar 102, finally taxing in where they were greeted by the fire department’s water arches as they parked. “This is a difficult and challenging time for many of our members, past and present.” Hamilton said, “Today we acknowledge the loss of an aviation based mission in Mansfield as a sad day for many, we honor the accomplishments of all those who have served this unit in its storied history.” Although the loss of the aviation based mission is not easy, it is important to recognize that the unit will carry on its legacy as it transitions to this new era as the 179th Cyber Wing. “We look to the future with optimism. We recognize the history this unit continues to make. Being selected to become the first Cyber wing in the Air National Guard is another historic milestone in a long tradition of adapting to the call of duty.” Hamilton said, “In a world of increasing technological advancement, this new mission secures Mansfield’s future as a vital contributor to the defense of Ohio and this great nation for generations to come.” Brig. Gen. Gary McCue, a prior commander of the 179th Airlift Wing, shared his thoughts. “This Wing is going to be the first to do what it’s being tasked to do, it’s going to be the vanguard, a lot of other Wings will follow suit.” McCue added, “For a lot of years, they said they were going to close us. Now we’re going to be the lead in the explosion of how we do things in the future.”
  19. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/838211/908th-aws-final-c-130-hercules-flight-4-ship-formation-flight-farewell?sub_id=211485&utm_campaign=subscriptions&utm_medium=email&utm_source=211485&utm_content=asset_link&fbclid=IwAR1lGaUqRZ4IQvWBMGsvElsYClSvRA1akDph4XSQ_8L3RpUB1l6DNxhQ9g4 908th AW's Final C-130 Hercules flight, 4-Ship Formation Flight farewell MONTGOMERY, AL, UNITED STATES 04.02.2022 Video by Senior Airman Shelby Thurman The 908th Airlift Wing concluded its final flights with the C-130H Hercules aircraft as it’s assigned platform Saturday, April 2, 2020 after nearly 40 years of service. The 908th was selected to divest their C-130 fleet in anticipation of a mission change to the formal training unit for the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter. The 908th AW was named as the preferred location to host the MH-139 FTU Nov. 20, 2020 and is still awaiting a final basing decision.
  20. This Is Our First Look At The Navy’s Next 'Doomsday Plane,' The EC-130J TACAMO The next-generation EC-130J TACAMO will replace the current fleet of E-6B Mercury jets in a throwback to the Cold War era. By Thomas Newdick April 5, 2022 Thomas Newdick Lockheed Martin has presented a concept for its EC-130J TACAMO aircraft for the first time, building on a plan that first emerged more than a year ago. The TACAMO, or “Take Charge And Move Out” (TACAMO) mission, currently provides airborne command and control support for America’s nuclear deterrent forces and is presently fulfilled by the E-6B Mercury “Doomsday Planes,” 16 of which are in use. In recapitalizing with the new EC-130J TACAMO, the Navy will be going back to the future, with the Mercury having previously replaced another Hercules variant, the Cold War-era EC-130Q. The mission will, however, be scaled back, with the EC-130J exclusively providing command and control for the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines. An artist’s concept of the EC-130J TACAMO was shown on the Lockheed Martin stand at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition that is currently underway just outside of Washington, D.C. The aircraft is shown with the long trailing wires for the very-low-frequency (VLF) communications system, and apparent fairings for satellite communications gear on the wingtips and above the rear fuselage. Below the wingtip fairings are additional spike antennas that may well be related to high-frequency antennas. The bottom of the fuselage has blisters for downlink antennas used to connect with ground entry communications points. Some sort of arrays also appear to be installed in the EC-130J's modified landing gear fairings. This feature could also carry extra fuel, similar to those installed on the CMV-22. The concept art for the EC-130J TACAMO also includes extended landing gearing fairings and a dome fairing under the fuselage. As well as providing a glimpse of how the future TACAMO platform will look, Lockheed Martin provided an update on the current status of the program. “Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules previously served as a U.S. Navy TACAMO platform, supporting mission successfully for many decades,” said Stephanie Sonnenfeld Stinn, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson, in a statement to The War Zone. “We stand ready to support the U.S. Navy’s TACAMO modernization effort with the unmatched, unrivaled C-130J Super Hercules. As the most advanced Hercules ever built and flown, the Super Hercules offers the unique mix of capabilities to potentially support the critical, no-fail TACAMO mission.” Meanwhile, Christopher Hurd, Public Affairs Officer for the Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office (PMA-271) at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, confirmed to The War Zone that the office is working to procure three non-configured, extended-length C-130J-30 aircraft for TACAMO testing. “The first test aircraft will tentatively arrive at Naval Air Station Patuxent River [Maryland] in the FY26 timeframe,” Hurd added. Despite the EC-130J having previously served as a TACAMO platform, the decision to replace the four-jet E-6B, some of the last Boeing 707 airliner derivatives built, with a turboprop platform was in some ways surprising. While the Hercules’ cargo-focused fuselage offers considerable capacity for avionics and equipment, a derivative of the twin-engine P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or even the KC-46 Pegasus tanker seemed most likely. There is also no shortage of bizjet-based platforms that could potentially have been candidates, too, although it’s questionable if a smaller airframe would have offered the capacity for trailing wire stowage as well as the necessary crew size and endurance. Hurd explained that an Analysis of Alternatives “indicated that a four-engine, domestically produced small aircraft is optimal for the TACAMO recapitalization,” seemingly making the C-130 the only option for the role. “The C-130 is currently extensively fielded within the Department of Defense and deployed at various bases worldwide that create operational support synergies for proving TACAMO execution,” Hurd added, pointing to the logistics, maintenance, and training advantages offered by a platform that’s already in widespread U.S. and allied service, including with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Hurd also pointed out that the C-130J-30 met the required performance parameters, including the ability to continue its tasking with one engine out, “regardless of when and where it occurs in the mission profile.” Sources have told The War Zone that the EC-130J would also drastically expand the number of airfields that the TACAMO could sit alert at and operate out of, making them more survivable and less predictable than the E-6. Upgrading and support will also be far easier than with some of the airliner airframes. The unique TACAMO mission profile also involves pilots putting the aircraft into a very steep and tight banking turn at slow speed, to ensure that the antenna for the VLF communications system is as close to vertical as possible, to maximize transmission effectiveness. These turns are typically repeated, often for hours at a time, to send messages. “The accelerated testing on a proven airframe will reduce the time needed to get to an initial operating capability, if all expectations are met during testing,” Hurd explained. There have been some other recent developments with the program, too, including the award of a sole-source contract to Collins Aerospace for the VLF communications system, while an open competition will lead to a contract award for mission systems integration. In one significant change from the E-6B that it’s replacing, the EC-130J TACAMO will, to begin with, at least, be designed for the TACAMO mission only. Currently, the Mercury fulfills both TACAMO duties for the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, and the U.S. Air Force’s Airborne Command Post (ABNCP) mission, which involves maintaining communications with intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and bomber units. Before the E-6B consolidated the two roles, the ballistic missile support mission was executed by the EC-135 Looking Glass. With the EC-130J TACAMO initially only being responsible for TACAMO, the implication here is that the new aircraft will be supplemental to the existing E-6B fleet, at least for some amount of time. Full retirement of the E-6Bs would then require a substitute for the ABNCP mission, perhaps through further adapting the EC-130Js or fielding a new platform altogether. The latter might even signal that the ABNCP mission is handed over from the Navy to the Air Force. Potentially, the Air Force’s Survivable Airborne Operations Center, which is being developed primarily as a replacement for the servie's fleet of E-4B Nightwatch aircraft, also known as National Airborne Operations Centers (NAOC), could provide a follow-on for the ABNCP mission. However, from what we know so far, the Survivable Airborne Operations Center is mainly pitched as an E-4B successor. If that’s the case, and SAOC will be a 747-based platform as expected, it seems unlikely that the Air Force will want to acquire and operate a fleet of them that is similar to the size of the current 16-strong E-6B fleet. After all, the current E-4B fleet numbers just four aircraft. An inventory somewhere in between is possible though. It’s worth noting that, for a while, consideration was given to the Air Force and the Navy considering a new joint platform that would provide a direct replacement for the E-6B, but that project appears to have been terminated by 2020. Going forward, therefore, questions about the airborne nuclear control and communications missions still need to be answered, with a distinct possibility that the current joint mission could be replaced by service-specific platforms. Were that to happen, there would be another interesting parallel with the old EC-130Q. After all, when this aircraft served the Navy in the TACAMO role, the Air Force meanwhile operated the aforementioned EC-135 for its ABNCP mission. Whatever direction is chosen for the future of the Navy and Air Force Doomsday Planes, the arrival of the EC-130J will help address the issues presented by an aging E-6B Mercury fleet that has now been in service for more than three decades.
  21. 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.
  22. 109th first in Air National Guard to build 3.5 engine Photo By Staff Sgt. Madison Daquelente | U.S. Air National Guard Staff. Sgt. Jason Candido, a propulsion specialist at the... read more SCHENECTADY, NY, UNITED STATES 03.15.2022 Story by Staff Sgt. Madison Daquelente LC-130 Hercules aircraft will have a smoother take off from Antarctica and Greenland thanks to the 109th maintenance squadron. 109th propulsion specialists assembled the first Air National Guard-built T56 3.5 turbo engine. The 3.5 modification is part of an Air Force initiative to update C-130 aircraft. The 109th’s engine is unique as it’s the first one to be assembled in-unit by airmen. This 3.5 engine is the finishing piece to modernizing the 109th’s legacy fleet into a more powerful and eco-friendly force. Operating the Department of Defense’s only ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules aircraft, the 109th deploys annually to the austere environments of Greenland and Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation. Occasionally, the skibirds have trouble taking off from icy surfaces of these areas of operation due to heavy cargo loads or friction lock under the skis. Traditionally, jet-assisted take off or JATO bottles are used to create extra thrust to get the skibirds off of the snow or ice and into the air. JATO production, however, officially stopped in 1991. Maj. Jim Roth, commander of the 109th maintenance squadron, explained the increasing challenges with using JATO. “They are depleting and every time we use them, we have to shoot eight off at a time, and it begins to present a real logistical concern when it comes to the decreasing supply,” Roth said. The new T56-8-15A 3.5 engines, combined with the LC-130H’s NP2000 eight-bladed propellers, are the answer to beginning to shift away from JATO bottles. “The updated features allow the aircraft to create the same thrust as JATO bottles but at lower operating temperatures, making them more eco-friendly,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Candido, a propulsion specialist with the 109th. “We're looking at an efficiency of about 20% more fuel efficiency compared to the 3.0 engine,” Candido continued. The skibirds will also be able to carry heavier cargo loads to remote polar regions. “We are the only heavy airlift able to reach these remote polar camps. These new engines allow for greater range and capacity. We’re advancing the Arctic strategy that much more,” Roth said. “It’s the expertise and abilities of 109th airmen like Jason Candido that drive us forward,” Roth continued. Candido, who has been at the 109th for over ten years, was one of the airmen who assembled the new engine. “This is the exact same engine that we’ve been using for years, just the internals are different,” Candido said. “The updated engine uses different types of metal in the turbine and compressor that have better heat retention, giving us the same power at lower temperatures,” he continued. Assembling the 3.5 engine is a two-person job that took approximately a full month’s work to complete, he said. “This is exactly what the National Guard is all about. It’s about retaining key talent and having an experienced workforce. Bringing that to the table allows us to do this stuff,” Roth said. “For me, there’s a lot of pride in putting this engine together. A lot of people just look at the engine, but I look at my work. It’s like art,” Candido said. The improved engines will also cut down on frequent maintenance and inspection. When the LC-130Hs finished the transition from four to eight-bladed propellers in 2018, Candido said there was a noticeable difference in maintenance time. “Whenever we had a seal leak in Antarctica, you couldn't replace that one blade. You had to do the entire process to put a brand new one back on,” Candido said. The eight-bladed propellers, however, are designed for a simpler fix in the event of a seal leak. “We went from having an engine with a day and a half downtime to maybe two hours, and then it's flying again,” Candido said. The 109th propulsion shop has been approved to start assembling the rest of the 3.5 engines, in conjunction with some that will be assembled in Little Rock, Arkansas. Members from the 109th are scheduled to attend a conference at the end of March to discuss a future timeline to outfit all LC-130Hs with the 3.5 engines. “We are plowing ahead with our own builds to help supplement the force. We are building ours quickly so we’re ready to go as soon as possible,” Roth said.
  23. Lockheed Martin Reaches Super Herculean Milestone With Delivery of 500th C-130J Airlifter This Historic Super Herc Operated by the West Virginia Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing MARIETTA, Ga., March 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Hercules history is made once again, with the announcement that Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) recently delivered its 500th C-130J Super Hercules airlifter. This Super Hercules (Lockheed Martin aircraft #5934) is a C-130J-30 aircraft assigned to the 130th Airlift Wing located at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, West Virginia. The 130th Airlift Wing is a longtime C-130 operator that is currently modernizing its legacy Hercules fleet with C-130Js. 500th-C-130J The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery represents the U.S. government's continued transition to the C-130J as the common platform across the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. "This delivery represents the thousands of people — past and present — that design, build, fly, maintain and support C-130Js around the world," said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Air Mobility & Maritime Missions (AMMM) line of business. "Like its namesake, the C-130J is a legend defined by its strength and power. Yet, it is the people who are part of the C-130J operator, production, supplier and industry partner communities who truly define the Super Hercules and helped the C-130J Program reach this monumental achievement." The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. The airlift choice of 26 operators in 22 nations, the global C-130 fleet has surpassed more than 2 million flight hours and holds more than 54 world records. Defined by its versatility, there are 17 different mission configurations of the C-130J that includes transport (military and commercial), humanitarian aid delivery, aerial firefighting, natural disaster relief support, medevac, search and rescue, weather reconnaissance, and aerial refueling. As the most advanced C-130 ever produced, the C-130J-30 Super Hercules (which is 15 feet/4.6 m longer than legacy C-130 models) offers these enhancements and advancements compared to legacy models: · 30% more passengers and cargo 50% more CDS bundles 44% more paratroopers 30% crew reduction 14% more fuel efficient 20% improvement in payload/range capability Integrated defensive suite and 250 knot ramp/door Automated maintenance fault reporting Unmatched situational awareness with digital avionics and dual HUD
  24. New Federal Spending Bill Includes $8.7M for YARS 12 Mar 2022 YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The $1.5 billion omnibus spending bill passed this week by both houses of Congress contains an allocation of $8.7 million for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. Within the voluminous legislation is the National Defense Authorization Act, which specifies the YARS allocation. The money will be used to widen a runway to accommodate C-17 aircraft. Also included is funding for four new C-130 J aircraft, which could eventually join four others approved in 2020 to be housed at YARS. In a news release Friday, The Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber praised the bipartisan efforts that resulted in passage of the omnibus bill. “Our entire federal delegation has always understood the economic value YARS provides to the entire Valley,” Regional Chamber President & CEO Guy Coviello said. “The hard work put forth by Sens. Brown and Portman, along with Congressmen Ryan, Johnson and Joyce is greatly acknowledged and appreciated to protect and grow Trumbull County’s largest employer.” Since the inception of EOMAC, the annual economic output at YARS has increased from $89 million to over $150 million, according to the chamber. YARS is home to the 910th Airlift Wing and the Department of Defense’s only large-area, fixed-wing aerial spray unit and has approximately 2,000 employees.
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