Sustaining the Older Herk

Air Force officials testifying before the House Armed Services Air and Land Forces Subcommittee on March 7 stated that, as of last month, the service has grounded or restricted 53 C-130 tactical airlifters. Surprisingly, all but one serves with an active unit. Among these bad actors are three C-130E Hercules that would require at least $2 million per aircraft to repair. The Air Force does plan to repair cracked center wing boxes of up to 62 C-130E and H models—at an average cost of $700,000 per aircraft—until it can replace the boxes. It must make these interim repairs to “maintain a combat effective intra-theater airlift fleet.” Still, the joint statement for Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, Lt. Gen. Howie Chandler, and Maj. Gen. Thomas Kane, noted that “vanishing vendors,” safety modifications, and decreased access to international airspace—an avionics modernization program is in the works to correct this problem—“limit the overall effectiveness” of the airlift “workhorse.”