“AMPle” Work Lies Ahead

The Air Force anticipates a decision in November on whether the C-130 avionics modernization program may move into low-rate production, a service spokesman tells the Daily Report. It is also preparing for a competitive phase to select the contractor to build the cockpit upgrade kits and install them during full-rate production. The Boeing-led AMP currently has two test aircraft—a C-130H2 and C-130H2.5 model—modified and undergoing flight tests at Edwards AFB, Calif. Between them, the aircraft have accumulated 172 flights and 512 flight hours. A third test aircraft, a C-130H3 airframe, is currently undergoing the AMP modifications at Boeing’s facility in San Antonio. It is scheduled for first flight in February 2009. Meanwhile the final increment of hardware and software to be installed in the test aircraft will be complete in August, the spokesman said. USAF currently plans to upgrade 222 C-130H2, -H2.5, and -H3 aircraft under AMP, but it seeks to incorporate 166 older C-130H1 and special-mission C-130s into the program, contingent on funding availability. The Air Force will buy 26 upgrade kits during the AMP’s low-rate initial production phase. Of them, the spokesman said, four will be installed by two competitively selected contractors during a source familiarization phase, which is intended to foster competition for the full-rate production and installation contract that is scheduled for award in the second quarter of Fiscal 2012. When Boeing won the AMP contract in 2001, it was given the rights to build and install all kits for the life of the program. But after subsequent revelations that former senior USAF weapons buyer Darleen Druyun had illegally steered contracts to Boeing, the Air Force decided to recompete full-rate production and installation. The service expects to release a solicitation for the competition in the first quarter of Fiscal 2009.