Testifying before Senate appropriators Wednesday, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said he is concerned about the service’s ability to maintain its greatly-in-demand C-130 tactical airlifters. He explained that despite a host of upgrade programs, the Air Force essentially is performing “geriatric maintenance,” a condition that will continue into the far future. Even after re-engining and replacing center wing boxes on older C-130s, Wynne said, “We still have to inspect the outboard wings because we’re afraid they’ll crack and fall off.” It takes 24 hours to do that inspection, and it must be done every 70 hours. And, that leads Wynne to believe that “the replacement rate of C-130s is probably inadequate.”
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.