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U.S. Air Force C-130 gets avionics overhaul

The Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate’s C-130 Program Office, along with the Air Mobility Command, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and prime contractor L3Harris Integrated Mission Systems, celebrated a major milestone with a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month to mark the completion of the first Trial Kit Installation onto a C-130H from the 139th Airlift Wing headquartered in St. Joseph, Mo.

The TKI effort is a key proof-of-concept milestone for the C-130H Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) Increment 2, which modernizes the cockpit while also increasing the reliability and accuracy of the navigation system, thereby improving aircraft sortie rates.

The upgraded cockpit of a C-130H Airlift. (Courtesy photograph)

The AMP Increment 2 — a $690 million project — is a significant avionics upgrade for 124 C-130Hs and 10 LC-130Hs, and is designed to keep the aircraft operational and in the fight performing crucial airlift missions.

“One of the characteristics of the H fleet is that a lot of equipment in the cockpit is unsustainable over the long-term,” said Bill Schneider, Lead Engineer with the directorate. “One of the purposes of this modification is to replace the aging and non-sustainable equipment with modern equipment that doesn’t have those same pitfalls. Secondly, we are adding capability. The new flight management system will allow for more efficient flight profiles and better route selection. Finally, AMP provides compliance with global navigation directives, which allows unrestricted flight in worldwide airspace.”

With hundreds of C-130s of various models in service, the aircraft is a workhorse capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and transporting troops and equipment into hostile environments. It can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including utility helicopters and armored vehicles, and airdrop loads up to 42,000 pounds. Overall it plays a key role in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“To have the first plane modified is a huge milestone,” said Kevin Ford, National Guard Bureau Liaison. “In concert with our lead contractor, L3Harris, we were able to modify this aircraft — despite challenges over the past couple of years — and now roll it out for the world to see.”

With the new modification the aircraft will enter a test program to verify and validate program requirements. After successful testing, the program will begin low rate initial production.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with L3H while anticipating upgrade completion for the C-130H and LC-130H fleets by 2027,” said Dr. Joseph Peloquin, chief of the directorate’s C-130 Hercules Division.

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