Avionics Upgrade Needed to Keep Guard C-130Hs Flying

Air National Guard officials are urging Congress to fund an avionics upgrade for their C-130Hs, warning that without the improvements all of those airlifters would be essentially grounded in six years. The Adjutant Generals of the 18 states with Air Guard C-130H units sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee asking them to find a way to pay for the avionics system called the Automatic Dependence Surveillance Broadcast-Out. The FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization require all aircraft operating in civil-controlled airspace to have that system by 2020. But the Guard officials said the C-130 avionics program now underway does not include that system. And, they warned, even if a more complete avionics upgrade started immediately, it would reach only “a small fraction of the C-130H fleet by 2020” at the current installation rate. There are 122 C-130Hs in the Air Guard, 84 in the Air Force Reserve, and 57 in the active Air Force. So far, the only response from the Senate is language in the Fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill asking the Air Force to find a way to fund the needed upgrade.