Defense

January 13, 2014

C-130H, end of an era in Afghanistan

SMSgt. Gary J. Rihn
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

All good things don’t necessarily need to come to an end; sometimes they are just replaced by something even better.

Such is the case with the venerable C-130H Hercules model aircraft here.

The C-130 has been around since the Vietnam War, forming the backbone of the Air Force’s tactical airlift fleet. It is especially well-suited to austere conditions like those found throughout Afghanistan.

The older C-130H models were recently replaced by the newer, more modern C-130J models. The newer model has the advantage of a longer fuselage offering two additional pallet positions for additional airlift capacity, an updated cockpit, more efficient engines and propellers, and other improvements.

“Inside, it’s a whole new aircraft,î said Lt. Col. Greg Lowe, the commander of the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. ìIn the cockpit, there are digital panels up front, so it takes a new breed of maintainers to fix all those new items.”

Despite the fact that some of the aircraft are 40 years old, the older C-130H model has enjoyed an enviable run, with a 94 percent reliability rate flying out of Bagram. The C-130J model is expected to increase that number.

“The H models have performed fantastic here in the (area of responsibility), virtually every day flying six or seven legs around Afghanistan, with hardly a maintenance issue,” Lowe said.

“The C-130H model here at Bagram has been truly outstanding,î added Col. Ben Spencer, the commander of the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. ìThey are the oldest C-130 fleet here in the AOR, flying the highest utilization rate, yet they continually boast the highest mission capability rate in the AOR.”

As the first aircraft prepared for its final departure from Bagram, maintainers and flight crew alike reminisced about their time here with the C-130H models.

“When my maintainers arrived here, I briefed them that they were writing history, one sortie at a time; that they were also closing a chapter of history in this war, closing a chapter on the C-130H model here in Afghanistan,” Spencer said.

“This has kind of been a full circle for me,î said Capt. Matt Ward, a navigator on the first of the C-130H flights to depart Bagram for good. ìI came here for the first time on the day that we got Bin Laden. Now I’m shutting down an aircraft model in Afghanistan, and going back to a squadron that is closing. The two are fittingly happening together.”

Ward’s crew was one of the last to perform a combat airdrop in Afghanistan. Some of the crew members had nearly 300 combat sorties to their credit on this deployment.

Several of the aircraft from Bagram will be refurbished at depot level maintenance and sold back to the Afghan air force. Others will be transferred to the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

In a fitting handoff of duties, one of the first of the replacement C-130J models landed at Bagram moments before the first C-130H model took off. The in-flight C-130H passed its replacement as it taxied in to assume its position in the recently vacated parking space on the Bagram Airfield ramp.

“We hope that the J models will pick up the mantle and do as well as our H model brethren did,” Spencer said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2015

Business: Rafale, Mistral on agenda for Le Drian in Malaysia, India – French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Malaysia Aug. 30, with talks expected to cover the Rafale fighter jet and Mistral helicopter carrier, website La Tribune reported. U.S. Army to choose new landing craft next year – In line with the Pentagon’s...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2015

Boeing plans to lay off some Southern California workers Boeing has announced that it plans to lay off employees at its Southern California-based satellite division. The Los Angeles Times reports that the aerospace giant said Aug. 25 that it will lay off as many as several hundred employees at the El Segundo factory. Boeing says...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 
LM-MUOS

U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin ready to launch MUOS-4 Aug. 31

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the fourth Mobile User Objective System secure communications satellite, MUOS-4, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>