Flight testing of an engine-efficiency retrofit for legacy model C-130s recently began at Edwards AFB, Calif., announced manufacturer Rolls-Royce. A Wyoming Air National Guard C-130H earlier this month flew with a single Series 3.5 enhanced T56 turboprop and three standard T56s during trials. The engine upgrade is designed to lower the T56’s operating temperatures, creating “significant savings in fuels costs, improved reliability, and performance,” over the current configuration, said Tom Bell, president of Rolls-Royce defense. The upgrade kit replaces components of the T56’s compressor unit and reduces fuel consumption by roughly eight percent as well as boosting “hot and high” performance, according to the company’s Sept. 17 release. Retrofitting the engines to the new configuration could occur during routine overhaul and keep the C-130H fleet flying to 2040, stated the company. The Air Force has not yet committed to the upgrade. However, Air Force analysis indicates that the long-term savings from it could reach $2 billion, according to Rolls-Royce.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.