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Everything posted by Metalbasher

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. A Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon is prepared for testing at the Eglin Air Force Armament Center on March 11, 2003. Share Article C-130 Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs’ at Eglin March 11, 2003 USAF drops a precision-guided Massive Ordnance Air Blast weapon from a C-130 aircraft in a test at Eglin AFB, Fla. Known as the “Mother of All Bombs,” and weighing 21,500 pounds, MOAB is the largest non-nuclear weapon in existence.
  15. Guard, Reserve would get 20 more C-130J transport aircraft under budget deal By Stephen Losey Mar 9, 01:17 PM WASHINGTON — The proposed budget bill that would fund the U.S. government for the rest of fiscal 2022 provides funding for 20 more C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. Sixteen of the added C-130Js would go to the Air National Guard to modernize two operational wings at an additional cost of $1.8 billion, according to a summary of the omnibus spending bill released by congressional appropriators Wednesday. The remaining four, which would add $429 million to the spending bill, would go to the Reserve. The increased spending for new C-130Js — now totaling nearly $2.4 billion, up from almost $129 million in the administration’s budget request — would be a boon to Lockheed Martin, which makes the mobility aircraft. It also represents the bulk of the increase to the Air Force’s aircraft procurement spending lawmakers added to the administration’s FY22 budget request. The original request called for $15.7 billion in aircraft procurement spending, but the omnibus bill would spend $18.4 billion. The Air National Guard is now in the midst of a multiyear effort to upgrade its mobility fleet and replace its three-decade-old C-130H Hercules planes with modern C-130Js. C-130Js have improved engines with six-blade propellers that provide more thrust and efficiency than their predecessor’s four-blade propeller engines, allowing it to fly farther and faster. They also have digital avionics, upgraded displays, improved navigation and radar systems, more cargo space, a digital autopilot, and the need for a smaller aircrew. In November 2020, the Air Force announced it had selected Air National Guard bases in Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas and Georgia to receive 24 C-130Js to replace their aging “H” models. At the time, Democrats objected to the Air Force’s surprise decision to select a fourth base — Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia — shortly before the runoff elections for both Senate seats there. The Air National Guard’s director, Lt. Gen. Mike Loh, said in a roundtable with reporters last year that modernizing the force’s mobility fleet, including upgrading older C-130Hs, is crucial. “In order to keep old aircraft around, it’s costing me a lot of money,” Loh said at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference in Maryland in September 2021. The budget deal also would considerably increase spending on C-130 modifications, from the administration’s original $29 million request to $272 million. This would include another $151 million for upgrading older C-130s with eight-blade propellers, and another added $79 million for engine enhancements. These eight-blade composite propellers were designed to make C-130Hs more efficient as well as to provide more thrust during takeoff and while climbing. In an explanatory statement, appropriators highlighted the importance of maintaining the C-130′s production line in light of diminishing manufacturing sources. The budget agreement includes an additional $26.3 million to pay for the Air Force’s C-130J diminishing manufacturing source requirements in FY22, increasing the administration’s original $113.3 million request. The omnibus budget also would add four MQ-9 drones to the administration’s original request at a price tag of $92 million, as well as eight additional UH-N1 helicopter replacements.
  16. Pretty sure we're down to single digit H1s now and I'm sure their days are numbered before deemed excess and up for grabs by FMS and about 40 H2s left.
  17. The facility is the result of the Public-Private Partnership between the WR-ALC, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center C-130J Hercules Division Program Office of the Air Force, and General Electric Aviation as Dowty Propellers. The activation establishes an organic depot repair and overhaul facility for the C-130J R-391 propeller at Robins. James Mossbarger Jr., WR-ALC Maintenance Activation Planning Team chief, said the new facility will employ 17 Air Force technicians and four Dowty Propeller contractors. "The workload is projected to double by 2026, which would possibly equate to 30-plus jobs for the complex," he said. Mossbarger said the complex will assist the bow wave propeller five-year overhaul requirements. "The WR-ALC will support Dowty in ensuring the C-130J aircraft overhaul mission has available propellers for the fleet," he said. "The location of Robins will assist in reducing some shipping costs and delivery times for propellers coming from Virginia and assist the C-130J aircraft programmed depot maintenance line turn-around times in regards to propellers." Mossbarger said most do not get the opportunity to experience working with a foreign entity like Dowty Propeller of the United Kingdom. "I feel that success in the Dowty UK partnership could be a pathfinder into future workload partnerships that could continue to grow jobs for the WR-ALC," he said. Mossbarger said he is honored to be a part of this Maintenance Activation Planning Team mission. "As a former C-130H legacy propeller technician, industrial engineering technician, and now MAPT chief, this mission has been a part of my life for seven years," he said. "I am proud to be a part of the future propeller work. As a legacy, C-130H aircraft workloads diminish this will ensure propeller workload is available for current and future technicians." C-130J aircraft propeller mechanics with the 572nd Commodities Maintenance Group rotate propeller blades to the reverse position at Robins AFB on February 2, 2022. The C-130J aircraft propeller blades were placed in to the reverse position to be removed from the propeller hub prior to blades’ programmed depot maintenance. [USAF photo by Joseph Mather]
  18. L3Harris Powers on First U.S. Air Force AMP INC 2 Aircraft Key milestone reached on road to delivery of first prototype aircraft. Integrated Mission Systems Feb 28, 2022 L3Harris recently achieved the “power-on” milestone for the first of three prototype aircraft under the U.S. Air Force Avionics Modernization Program Increment 2 (AMP INC 2). Additionally, the AMP INC 2 team completed the Systems Integration Lab (SIL), allowing flight software testing to begin. SIL testing is the first step in validating the customer’s mission system requirements before transitioning into ground and flight testing within the next six months. Modification and testing are occurring in parallel at L3Harris’ Waco, Texas aircraft modification facility, the company’s C-130 Center of Excellence. Once local testing is complete, the aircraft will transition into joint developmental testing at Eglin AFB, with delivery of the three aircraft to follow for operational testing later this year. Low-Rate Initial Production is slated to begin in August 2022 with Full Rate Production beginning in 2023.
  19. U.S. Air Force Trains With Japan’s US-2 Flying Boat As It Looks Forward To Its Own Amphibious Plane While plans for an amphibious MC-130 transport take shape, Cope North 2022 provided an opportunity to see the capabilities of the US-2 firsthand. By Thomas Newdick February 23, 2022 U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Joseph P. LeVeille Airmen from the U.S. Air Force got up close and personal with the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft during the latest iteration of the Cope North exercise, which took place recently in the Asia-Pacific region. The rare, potentially first-time exposure to one of the few amphibians in military service today comes as the service looks increasingly at an amphibious variant of the C-130 Hercules transport to operate from littoral areas in support of special operations forces. Cope North 2022 took place from February 2nd to the 18th and involved participation from the air forces of Australia, Japan, and the United States, with around 3,500 personnel and 130 aircraft. Participants trained in air combat, large force employment, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) exercises. These scenarios were played out at various locations, including Andersen Air Force Base and Northwest Field on Guam; the Northern Mariana Islands, including Rota, Saipan, and Tinian; Palau; and the Federated States of Micronesia. U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Joseph P. LeVeille A Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 floats in the ocean during Exercise Cope North 22 off the Island of Tinian near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, February 14, 2022. Cope North 22 also included training related to the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept of operations, which involves providing dispersed operating locations that can be accessed by Air Force and allied combat aircraft during a crisis. Other central tenets of ACE include deploying assets in a less predictable way, leveraging smaller ground support teams, and building up austere bases to minimum operating requirements, before moving on again quickly. In this theater, Pacific Air Forces are increasingly working on ACE as a means to project combat power across the Asia Pacific region, including using a network of distributed operating locations. So far, these have been on land, but the Air Force is now examining how amphibious aircraft would expand the possibilities of this concept further still. Photos released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Defense show a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) US-2 operating in the water near Andersen during the exercise as part of an HA/DR training scenario. JMSDF personnel worked alongside U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters from the 33rd Rescue Squadron, which is stationed at Kadena Air Base in Japan, during this particular portion of Cope North 22. U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Joseph P. LeVeille The US-2 from the 71st Air Rescue Squadron floats in the ocean while U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 33rd Rescue Squadron hover nearby. The US-2, a remarkable aircraft that The War Zone has examined in depth in the past, is thoroughly modern, despite its retro looks. It is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100J turboprops that each develop 4,600 horsepower, has a flight deck equipped with digital displays, can cruise at 300 miles per hour, and has a maximum range of almost 3,000 miles. It also boasts short-takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities thanks to a combination of blown flap and an advanced flight control system. U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla A Royal Australian Air Force aviator in the cockpit of a US-2 during Cope North 22 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, February 10, 2022. The U.S. Air Force at large has been taking an increasing interest in the US-2 in recent months. Last November, an Air Force Special Operations Command (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.” “Flying an airplane that can land on water isn’t a new concept, but few aviators have the experience of amphibious aviation,” Maj. Gen. Hill said at the time. “Gaining lessons from our partners will help us learn what to anticipate as we begin to build our own tactics and techniques moving forward.” U.S. Air Force/1st Lt Rachael Parks Members of Fleet Air Wing 31, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force stand alongside Gen. Eric Hill, Air Force Special Operations Command deputy commander, and MCAS Iwakuni leadership in front of a US-2, November 9, 2021. Significantly, a U.S. Department of Defense media release at the time stated that the visit to Iwakuni “brings better understanding to AFSOC’s growing interest in amphibious operations,” adding that the US-2 is “designed for personnel rescue and contingency response.” U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Joseph P. LeVeille The US-2 in the ocean during exercise Cope North 22. Of course, those last two missions were also part of Cope North 22, and the Air Force also has an eye on how a future amphibious aircraft could operate in these roles. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that AFSOC has been taking a close look at the US-2. While the high-level AFSOC visit to Iwakuni was explicitly described as a fact-finding mission, at least in part, that’s not necessarily the case with the Air Force’s interactions with the US-2 in Cope North 22. However, in light of the service’s previous interest, it’s noteworthy that Air Force personnel have now been working with the US-2 in some of the kinds of missions that it envisages for a potential new amphibious aircraft. Last September, AFSOC provided its clearest indication yet that an amphibious aircraft — based on the MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport — is firmly on its list of priorities. An official release at the time included the following: In partnership with the Air Force Research Lab’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (AFRL-SDPE) directorate, AFSOC is developing an MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability (MAC) to improve the platform’s support of seaborne special operations. “The development of the MAC capability is the culmination of multiple lines of effort,” said Lt Col Josh Trantham, AFSOC Science, Systems, Technology, & Innovation (SST&I) Deputy Division Chief. “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.” Before this point, there were other signals that AFSOC was finally embracing the idea of an amphibious C-130, a concept that has been explored on several occasions in the past, with a variety of floatplane concepts having been examined. All told, the Asia Pacific region is seeing a definite resurgence in interest in seaplanes right now. While the MC-130J MAC will not be a true flying boat, like the US-2 and the even larger Chinese AG600, it will have an amphibious capability, meaning it will be able to still land on a runway with its floats fitted. As for the AG600, it has recently undergone a major redesign and remains in prototype form for now. Among the missions that are being considered for the C-130 floatplane is combat search and rescue, which presents particular demands in the Asia Pacific theater, where aircrew may need to be plucked from the water at considerable distances — far beyond the reach of the current fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks, for example. Future CSAR platforms, including amphibious, vertical takeoff and landing, and even stealth capabilities, are something the Air Force is already looking at. With its ability to operate from water, and to cover long distances, the US-2 provides some idea of how the MC-130J MAC might be operated in this role. AFSOC An artist’s concept of the float-equipped MC-130J MAC. This kind of concept fits in very much with the broader Agile Combat Employment concept, in which runway independence is fast becoming a huge issue for the U.S. military. An MC-130J that’s able to operate from water or from airstrips would be one way of helping mitigate the vulnerability of large conventional runways, particularly when held at risk by ballistic missiles. Some are even saying that AFSOC should just buy the US-2, which could make some sense for a more limited mission set. But the MC-130J MAC would be better suited for supporting logistical operations, including moving outsized supplies, vehicles, and fuel to remote outposts. Then again, the MC-130J MAC doesn't actually exist just yet and its actual capabilities are yet to be realized. There is also a sense of urgency around AFSOC’s future amphibious aircraft, with plans announced last September for an operational demonstration of the MAC concept in just 17 months. Should that ambitious timeline be met, the Air Force may not have to wait long before it, too, can field a transport that can operate from water with as much ease as it can on land. In the meantime, Japan’s US-2 provides a fascinating glimpse of what kinds of capabilities this class of aircraft can offer.
  20. Pentagon’s No.1 weapons supplier secures $1,4B contract for C-130J support By Dylan Malyasov Feb 1, 2022 Pentagon’s No.1 weapons supplier Lockheed Martin Corp. was awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force for the C-130J mission sustainment support effort. The award, announced by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on 31 January, was worth $1,4 billion and covered contractor logistics support and sustainment of the C-130J aircraft fleet. The work, which is is expected to be complete in January 2032, will be performed in Marietta, Georgia, where Lockheed builds the transport planes. The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet and has replaced aging C-130Es and some of the high time C-130Hs. The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology, which reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models. The C-130J-30 is a stretch version, adding 15 feet to the fuselage, increasing usable space in the cargo compartment. As noted by the company, the C-130J is faster, goes further and holds more compared to legacy platforms, translating to greater power and enhanced capabilities. The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced C-130 ever designed, built, flown and maintained, with a truly integrated digital core.
  21. These are from a few years ago...they literally have not been touched in several years. At one point I think LMCO was towing them around but that didn't last too long...
  22. There is no chance they will fly...complete scrap at this point based on the pix and discussion I've had with people that have been to the acft.
  23. Some C-130s from Montana Air National Guard transferred abroad Posted on January 25, 2022 by Jenn Rowell C-130s from the 120th Airlift Wing of the Montana Air National Guard have been transferred to Chile, Colombia and Romania. The older C-130 models at the 120th had been replaced by newer models beginning in June 2021. Two of the older C-130s went to Chile in April, two went to Colombia in September 2021 and the last one went to Romania in December, according to the 120th. The Air Force used the Foreign Military Sales program to transfer the aircraft with no cost to the Air Guard, according to the 120th. All of the transfers were completed by 120th airmen and the goal of the program is to “strengthen U.S. relationships with those nations and to help improve their own air force capabilities,” according to the 120th. “The transfers were great training, the crews earned flight hours and on arrival helped train foreign nation personnel on the aircraft. Once complete, everyone took commercial flights home.” The aircraft that went to Romania is now apart of their 90th Air Transport Base-the 901 Strategic Transport Squadron, according to Romanian media. Over the summer, Col. Trace Thomas, 120th commander, told City Commissioners that the wing would be receiving the newer aircraft throughout the summer to replace their eight and bring the average of the planes to 1992-1993 manufacture versus the 1970s model they’ve been flying. The 120th had been in the running for the C-130J model aircraft but was not selected and will instead be receiving newer C-130H models, the first of which arrived June 2.
  24. AC-130 Gunships Are Finally Getting A New 105mm Howitzer The AC-130's biggest gun is getting a makeover to make it more capable and reliable than its 1960s-era predecessor. By Joseph Trevithick January 20, 2022 USAF/USN The U.S. Navy recently announced that a team of its engineers had crafted an improved 105mm howitzer for use on the U.S. Air Force's AC-130 gunships. That service's remaining fleets of AC-130W Stinger II and AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft are currently armed with a modified version of a howitzer the U.S. Army first began fielding in the 1960s and that is no longer in operational use anywhere else in the U.S. military. Engineers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, also known as NSWCDD or just Dahlgren, located in Virginia, led the project to develop a replacement for the modified M102 howitzers on Air Force AC-130Ws and AC-130Js, according to a press release that Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) put out earlier this month. That team successfully built and delivered at least one prototype of that weapon. The Navy's release refers to this howitzer only as the Gun Aircraft Unit (GAU). GAU is just a standardized prefix in a joint Air Force-Navy designation system that is typically used for guns intended to be mounted on aircraft. For example, the 30mm Bushmaster II cannons that the AC-130W and AC-130J gunships are also armed with are designated under this same system as GAU-23/As. An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship armed with the modified M102 howitzer, seen sticking of left side of the rear of the fuselage, among other weapons. It is unclear whether Dahlgren's howitzer is entirely new or if it incorporates components from the M102. The Navy describes it as "upgraded" and a picture of the prototype, seen at the top of this story and below, does have some general features, including a top-mounted recoil system, in common with the older Army howitzer. "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 NAVSEA's release. "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." “This has become a much more reliable system with less maintenance,” Matthew Buckler, the Gun Weapons System lead mechanical engineer on the project at Dahlgren, said in a statement. “If we can get a system that’s more reliable, that’s more repeatable, that works and that allows the warfighter to complete their mission every time – that’s a huge benefit for the warfighter.” The Army's Rock Island Arsenal designed and built the M102 in the early 1960s as a lightweight replacement for the World War II-era M101, with the first examples being delivered to units in 1964. It eventually became the service's standard 105mm howitzer, a role it held until the newer M119 was fielded, starting in 1989. It saw major use during the Vietnam War, as well as with Army units in various conflicts after that, including the American intervention in Grenada in 1983 and the First Gulf War in 1990-1991. The last known employment of M102s in their normal indirect fire role was in 2004, when an Arkansas Army National Guard field artillery battalion deployed with these weapons to support operations in Iraq. Various American allies and partners around the world continue to use these weapons. In 1970, the Air Force had first begun testing a modified version of the M102 as a new weapon for its AC-130 gunship as part of a program called Pave Aegis. The service began integrating those weapons onto a number of AC-130E aircraft the following year, examples of which were subsequently employed in combat in Southeast Asia. The 105mm howitzer became a standard weapon on all subsequent AC-130H and AC-130U aircraft. A shematic showing the layout of various weapons, including the 105mm M102 howitzer, and other systems on AC-130E gunships in the Pave Aegis configuration. The Air Force did not initially plan on integrating the howitzer onto newer AC-130W sand AC-130J aircraft, placing a greater emphasis on precision-guided munitions and reducing the gun armament to a single 30mm GAU-23/A cannon. However, the M102 offers distinct capabilities compared to precision-guided bombs and missiles, particularly in its ability to quickly focus a significant amount of firepower on relatively small target areas and then rapidly shift focus to new ones. The howitzer can also fire different types of ammunition, including air-bursting rounds, giving it added flexibility against different target sets. The GAU-23/A could offer some of this same operational flexibility. However, the destructive power of its 30mm shells is nowhere near that of an 105mm round, which can be used to reduce structures and other obstacles, engage hardened targets such as bunkers, and take out armored vehicles, among other things. In the end, the Air Force changed course and add the M102 to the Stinger IIs and Ghostriders as part of an upgrade package for both types. The video below shows testing of the 105mm howitzer upgrade package for the AC-130W gunship in 2013. The issue, of course, is that the M102 is a dated design that is no longer in production or active use anywhere else in the U.S. military, and it has a steadily dwindling user base abroad. All of this makes sustaining a relatively small number of these guns for use on the Air Force's AC-130s an increasingly costly and complex affair. This is not the first time the Air Force has faced a similar issue with regards to aging weapons on its AC-130s. The AC-130U, all of which have now been retired, was the last platform of any kind in the U.S. military to be armed with the 40mm Bofors cannon. Before those aircraft were finally retired, it became costlier and costlier to source spare parts and ammunition for those guns, leading the Air Force to scour arms dumps abroad for barrels and to refurbish stocks of World War II-era shells. Why the Navy was chosen to develop this improved 105mm gun system for the Air Force's AC-130s is unclear. This could be due in part to the Navy's general experience with very large-caliber guns that are designed to be fired accurately from platforms (ships) potentially moving quite violently in multiple directions at once. Whatever the case, Dahlgren certainly has extensive past experience on programs related to the AC-130, including supporting the past development of the 105mm howitzer package for the AC-130W and AC-130J and a current project to integrate a laser directed weapon on a J model gunship. Dahlgren's engineers have now been called upon again to help ensure the Air Force's remaining AC-130 gunships continue to have the option of firing 105mm shells, in addition to their other diverse armament options, for the foreseeable future.
  25. Friday, 17 Dec 2021, C-130H # 82-0055 - was damn close (less than 2”) but no impact to the bridge/acft. Occurred off I-10 as you get off I-10 West for Route 87, turning left to head to Navarre (bridge is I-10). Acft ended up at Hurlburt Field as scheduled. Photos show C-130 aircraft being transported on I-10 to Hurlburt Field by WEAR staff Friday, December 17th 2021 SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla -- A C-130 aircraft was seen being transported Friday afternoon on I-10 in Northwest Florida. Florida Highway Patrol says the moving of the aircraft was permitted and approved over dimension transport. It was heading to Hurlburt Field. According to FHP, the C-130 did have to change lanes to a lower portion of the road/bridge so it would fit under. FHP states the aircraft never became stuck under the Highway 87/I-10 overpass in Milton. FHP says this did impact traffic on the highway.
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