Legacy C-130 Upgrade Tweaked Again

The Air Force is once again scaling back its efforts to upgrade its legacy C-130H transports so that they can continue to operate safely in civilian and military airspace, Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers. “This year, we’re proposing a minimum program, a minimized strategy, if you will,” said Donley in April 12 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on the Air Force’s Fiscal 2014 budget proposal. He said this minimized effort would “include only the FAA upgrades to these C-130s that are required to meet FAA requirements for the National Airspace System by 2020 and to meet other international FAA-equivalent standards.” The Air Force’s original plan was to upgrade these C-130s with state-of-the-art communications and navigation systems under the more ambitious, $2 billion C-130 Avionics Modernization Program. “That was terminated, and we dropped back to something called an optimized CNS navigation upgrade,” about a $650 million initiative, explained Donley. “We have terminated that, backed off even further,” he said, as the service seeks to “finds ways to minimize” cost as it gets “squeezed on the budget front.”