USAF Wants C-130Es Gone by 2015

The Air Force has decided to junk its rapidly ailing C-130E model tactical transports by Fiscal 2015 in favor of a mix of new C-130Js and upgraded H models, according to acquisition officials. The C-130H aircraft would have new or repaired center wing boxes and the avionics modernization program upgrade. “What you’re going to have is an aircraft that has the structural ability and the avionics necessary to allow this aircraft to continue to operate worldwide for the next 20 years,” Maj. Gen. David Gray, director of global reach programs for USAF acquisition, told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday. Gray said all of the Air Force’s C-130Hs will eventually require center wing box repair or replacement. As of Aug. 26, the service has repaired 47 combat delivery H models and a number of special mission Hs. The plan is to ramp up the repair and replacement quota to 24 wing boxes per year, an effort that the service would couple with the C-130 AMP upgrade. Gray said Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense have signed off on AMP funding for 221 aircraft, leaving 47 Air Mobility Command and 82 special mission aircraft unfunded. “We’re working with OSD to find a way ahead on that,” said Gray, adding that the unfunded airframes would “be addressed in the 2010 budget process.” The other part of the mix, Gray said, would include purchase of 172 C-130Js, using savings generated by retiring the E models. USAF has already moved to buy 14 HC-130J and MC-130J special mission aircraft (six in 2008, eight in 2009, and seven more MC-130Js lumped into the Fiscal 2008 war on terror supplemental), but has a requirement to get to 115 HC/MCs. “What we’ve got to do is go back to OSD prior to a Milestone C decision in September 2009 with an acquisition strategy and a way ahead on how to get … to 115,” Gray said. “We’re moving out very rapidly and aggressively on this.”