HC/MC-130J Update

DA SWO

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E-mail from the AF Association:

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/Features/modernization/Pages/box100609herk.aspx

October 6, 2009—The keel for the Air Force’s first Special Mission Hercules aircraft was laid in ceremonies at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Marietta, Ga., on Monday, marking the start of final assembly of this aircraft.

This new model of the C-130J Hercules is based on the KC-130J tanker that the company has supplied to the Marines Corps, but with added features like an electro-optic/infrared sensor, enhanced cargo-handling system, and higher capacity generators.

The company will build both an HC-130J search-and-rescue variant of this model for Air Combat Command and an MC-130J tanker version for Air Force Special Operations Command right on the standard C-130J production line.

Previously, standard C-130s had to be heavily modified for the HC/MC missions after assembly was finished. Now, new manufacturing methods permit most of the mods to be made during production, said Lockheed’s program manager Jack O’Banion. Doing it right on the assembly line can be done for $5 million each aircraft, as opposed to $13 million apiece the old way, he said. Deliveries can also be made eight months faster.

“These are lessons learned from the F-35,” for which Lockheed accommodates three variants on one assembly line, O’Banion told reporters at the plant.

The Air Force has said it wants 115 new HC/MC-130Js.

Of those, ACC needs 78 HC-130Js “and that’s to replace our fleet of 40-year-old HC-130s that we have out there now,” said Col. Mike Corbett, ACC’s chief of personnel recovery requirements.

AFSOC needs 37 MC-130Js to replace “our 45-year-old MC-130Es, of which we have 10, and 23 of the 40-year-old MC-130Ps,” said Col. Billy Montgomery of AFSOC. The additional aircraft would help cope with dramatically expanded taskings, he said.

So far, 22 of the new HC/MC-130J aircraft are funded.

Two HC-130Js will be delivered in 2010—including the one for which the keel was laid—with initial operating capability in 2012, and 10 MC-130s will be built in 2011. After that, it remains to be seen how and when the aging fleets is recapitalized.

“There’s a lot of competition for spaces on the C-130 line,” said Corbett
 

DA SWO

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One point, as late as 2001 the AF siad it didn't want/need J model 130's. Our future thinkers don't, and that is the problem.
 

Vat_69

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One point, as late as 2001 the AF siad it didn't want/need J model 130's. Our future thinkers don't, and that is the problem.
Well it was really a matter of not needing the J. The H3 was the evolution of a proven airframe and it was only getting better. The last H3 was produced in '96 I believe, Lockheed and politicians forced the end of the H3 production line and forced the AF's hand on the J model.

IMO the AF would have saved massive amounts of money if they simply repopulated the 'legacy' fleet with state of the art H3s vs wasting ridiculous amounts of time and money on the latest wiz bang gadget.
 

DA SWO

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Well it was really a matter of not needing the J. The H3 was the evolution of a proven airframe and it was only getting better. The last H3 was produced in '96 I believe, Lockheed and politicians forced the end of the H3 production line and forced the AF's hand on the J model.

IMO the AF would have saved massive amounts of money if they simply repopulated the 'legacy' fleet with state of the art H3s vs wasting ridiculous amounts of time and money on the latest wiz bang gadget.

AF never asked for the J's. That was a corporate decision by Lockheed. Most of the flight testing was paid for by Lockheed. FWIW- Brits bought the first J model. AF rushed an order in to secure spot #1 on the assembly line.

H-3 is a good model, but the J is light years ahead. The J is a natural progression of the type. New avionics, new engines, smaller crew. Biggest mistake the AF made was not replacing special missions aircraft first, then buying tac airlift models. Most of the Tac Airlift issues came because Lockheed hadn't conducted flight tests in those areas (air drop for ex). Lockheed didn't test because the countries buying were not interested in those mission areas, using the J as a point to point cargo hauler.

Another point to ponder. The week prior to 9/11/01; CSAF makes a speech stating we have 300 excess 130's that needed to go (essentially all the Reserve and Guard birds). Flash foward to OIF....Tac Airlift becomes a critical shortage and every Reserve/Guard 130 unit is mobbed at some point during the war. Where would the Tac Airlift have come from if we had retired those aircraft?

The J run would have ended if Congress hadn't "forced unwanted/unneeded aircraft" on the AF. Which would have closed the 130 production line. Sometimes pork is good.
 

Vat_69

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AF never asked for the J's. That was a corporate decision by Lockheed. Most of the flight testing was paid for by Lockheed. FWIW- Brits bought the first J model. AF rushed an order in to secure spot #1 on the assembly line.

H-3 is a good model, but the J is light years ahead. The J is a natural progression of the type. New avionics, new engines, smaller crew.

The J run would have ended if Congress hadn't "forced unwanted/unneeded aircraft" on the AF. Which would have closed the 130 production line. Sometimes pork is good.

But you don't NEED lightyears of advancment for ANY of the Herc missions. The H3 was plenty advanced for the job. Throw the new eight bladed electronic props on the existing engines and you have x3 the performance, negating the new engine requirement. The smaller crew point works for Tac airlift, but AFSOC is not going to be dropping crew positions anytime soon.

Agreed on the AFSOC birds should have been recaped waaaay ahead of the trash hauling AMC birds. For what we do + the mods required for spec missions...the H3 was ideal, my .02.
 

mikemolzahn

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HC/MC-130J update.

I agree that the MC-130Ps should have been recapped long ago, the MC-130E still have some good life left in them and are truly only being recapped because the are listed as "E" models. There are no hurry to recap the AC-130H's even though they are also true "E" models and have been over weight their whole lives. But ACC shouldn't be the first to get the new J model version, since they pamper their aircraft where as AFSOC puts theirs in the nitty gritty and deep in the muck to support the true Special Ops mission. :2c:

Engine Mike
 

Scotth

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I was reading through the linked articles. In a second article they were talking about a "center wing box repair". Is that a structural repair to the wing and fuselage to add life span to the aircraft?
 

Vat_69

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I agree that the MC-130Ps should have been recapped long ago, the MC-130E still have some good life left in them and are truly only being recapped because the are listed as "E" models. There are no hurry to recap the AC-130H's even though they are also true "E" models and have been over weight their whole lives. But ACC shouldn't be the first to get the new J model version, since they pamper their aircraft where as AFSOC puts theirs in the nitty gritty and deep in the muck to support the true Special Ops mission. :2c:

Engine Mike

A couple of our FEs just came from different T1 squadrons and said those birds are dead and dying, so not sure which MC-130Es you work with. Not to mention the Talon I's are some of the oldest E models in the entire AF, 64'-68' tail numbers. The AC-130Hs have been labelled 'legacy locked' which means not a penny will be spent trying to keep them in the air longer than the two years AFSOC has given them to continue flying. At the two year mark they are boneyard bound.

Agreed ACC has no business with new Hercs until AFSOC's needs are met. Problem with that is AFSOC is still trying to figure out how to use the J, since the AMC fairies think they own the plane they are trying to tell AFSOC how to fly it and as you can imagine, that dog don't hunt. In addition to trying to find a place to squeeze in a navigator or two and an engineer...it'll take some time.


As for the wing box issue...a wing box is pretty much the core structure that the wings are 'inserted' into, kinda like taking your fingers and interlocking them. these wing boxes carry a tremendous load from the wings and are what keeps the plane from folding up on its self. Hercs get banged around ALOT and when those wings are bouncing and flexing the wing box is what isbearing the force. Long and very time consuming job to repair cracked or worn out wing boxes.
 

DA SWO

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Agreed ACC has no business with new Hercs until AFSOC's needs are met. Problem with that is AFSOC is still trying to figure out how to use the J, since the AMC fairies think they own the plane they are trying to tell AFSOC how to fly it and as you can imagine, that dog don't hunt. In addition to trying to find a place to squeeze in a navigator or two and an engineer...it'll take some time.

.

Nav doesn't have to be on the flight deck. WC-J's put the ARWO in the Cargo area, NAV could go there. FE could probably go there too, but I'd rather have them on the flight deck.
 

Vat_69

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Actually I misspoke about the Talon I's, they were just pushed up to a 2015 service life, about a month ago.
 

talonlm

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Nav doesn't have to be on the flight deck. WC-J's put the ARWO in the Cargo area, NAV could go there. FE could probably go there too, but I'd rather have them on the flight deck.


Trust me, you don't want anything more in the cargo compartment than absolutely needed. The Combat Talon has the RO/EWO console up in the forward part of the cargo compartment--I usually run out of volume before I run out of weight.

With the Wombats being turned into interim gunships and the Talon 2s getting their wingboxes replaced, and the dual rail installation in the Scarbacks proceeding slower than expected, the Talons have had a bit of a new lease on life. The 2015 date mentioned is the earliest we've been told AFSOC will retire the entire fleet (previously, we were told FY 2009), though I expect some airframes will be retired before that. While the aircraft are old--the youngest turned 45 this year--we have some top notch maintenance folks here and some prudent investments in airframe work done on them through the nineties that will keep them flying.

We have heard rumors of the MC-Js coming our way, but, IMO, AFSOC doesn't really know what to do with Reservists, so what we fly after that time is anyone's guess.

And there's no such thing as a "Talon 1." :D
 

talonlm

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The MC-J is supposed to be more of a Shadow than a Talon 3, at least initially.
 

JModelGuy

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Agreed ACC has no business with new Hercs until AFSOC's needs are met. Problem with that is AFSOC is still trying to figure out how to use the J, since the AMC fairies think they own the plane they are trying to tell AFSOC how to fly it and as you can imagine, that dog don't hunt. In addition to trying to find a place to squeeze in a navigator or two and an engineer...it'll take some time.


So far what I have found is that AMC isn't trying to tell AFSOC how to use the plane so much as AFSOC is telling AMC to screw off. IMO, and my experiece, the ANG (mainly the 135th) took the J from a flagpole only bird to NVG Low Level to max effort/airdrop operations in combat, all while the IOC was awaiting release, AND while trying to shed every anchor AMC threw on us. Granted, AFSOC has a few different requirements than AMC, and I would never try to take that away. You wouldn't see AMC doing FARP or TF, but I do think that AFSOC can still learn alot from the growing pains that the guard units suffered while developing the program. After all, there is no point in re-inventing the wheel. I know for a fact that AFSOC is trying to convert their old checklists from the Vol III an -1 into a J checklist, and I remember when AMC did that... it was hell. I think its easier to take an existing program and "AFSOC-ize" it than to try to bastardize an E/H checklist to a J.

As far as putting an engineer/navigator in the airplane, quite frankly, that would be silly. As far as the engineer, the current software block has tremendous capability with calculating all TOLD data, and the systems are very intuitive in either giving reporting on failures, or in some cases rectifying the issues on its own. As far as a Nav, why pay someone to monitor automated systems. The flight management has a great capability to provide automated SCA"s, as well as a great Terrain Awareness System. I have seen a Nav work on a J, and all they do is monitor an automated sytem and read calls to the pilot that they themselves have right in front on their HUD. AFSOC is moving to put one extra officer, a CSO, and I do understand that position with what will be on the plane.

I could go further, but I don't want to get to deep in capabilities on the net. I'll be in Hurbie the 1st week of December if anyone wants to talk over beers about this...
 

talonlm

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The crew requirement on the MC-J is firmly set in jello at this point. I have heard about including both an FE and/ or a Nav/EWO/CSO on the flight deck. I don't know enough about the J to make a call on the systems and what crew dogs are required and, like jmodelguy points out, I don't think we need to get too deept into it here.
 
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