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.


 
 

 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 

AF Test Pilot School applications due in June

The 2015 Air Force Test Pilot School selection board will convene July 20-24 to consider candidates for July 2016 and January 2017 classes. Applications are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by June 5. The board will select applicants for fighter, multi-engine aircraft, helicopter and remotely piloted aircraft pilot, combat systems officers – to...
 

 
Air Force photograph by A1C Stephen G. Eigel

Last MC-130P Combat Shadows in the Pacific retire

Air Force photograph by A1C Stephen G. Eigel An MC-130P Combat Shadow awaits its final checks on Kadena Air Base, Japan, before departing for the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 15, 2015. The 17th S...
 
 
F22-hero1

F-22 test squadron recognizes decorated squadron member, Vietnam hero

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara William Freckleton, 412th Range Squadron lead F-22 range control officer, poses before his F-16D incentive flight April 21. Freckleton is the only decorated Vietnam veteran at the 411th Flight...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

AFRL redesigns mock UAV, ‘Surrogate Predator’

Courtesy photograph An enhanced Surrogate Predator 3 is prepared for takeoff. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors were added to the Cessna 182 so it can mimic a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Air Force Rese...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>