Navy Air Warfare Director: C-130 Fleet Will be Full Up in Fiscal 2019
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — The Navy expects to have all of its C-130 Hercules transport aircraft back flying this fiscal year after grounding many for problems with their propellers.
“We’ll have all the aircraft up by FY ’19 and all the aircraft to the NP2000 [propeller] by FY ’20,” said Rear Adm. Scott D. Conn, director of Air Warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, testifying Sept. 28 before the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee.
The Navy Reserve operates 24 C-130T and KC-130T transports, as well as 15 C-40A Skytrain II airlift jets. They are used to support deployed fleet operations by transporting personnel, cargo, spare parts and mail to ships and stations. The C-130 will become even more important in the future.
“The C-130T is the only Navy aircraft capable of moving all modules of the F-35’s engine,” Conn said.
Many Navy and Marine Corps C-130s were grounded as a precaution after a Marine Corps Reserve KC-130T crashed in Mississippi in July 2017, with the possibility that a propeller separated from an engine and cut through the fuselage. The crash killed 15 Marines and one Sailor.
Congress supported the Navy in procuring new propeller blades and new NP2000 propellers for the legacy C-130Ts and KC-130Ts with $121 million.
The Air Force and Navy formed an Independent Review Team at Warner Robins air logistics complex in Georgia to revamp C-130 propeller overhaul requirements, with the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and partner-nation C-130 operators also invested in the process.
The logistics complex began build-up of 54 propellers in March in support of naval C-130s. The propellers were assembled using new production blades procured from the original equipment manufacturer who currently is increasing delivery from 30 a month to 48 a month by October, Air Force Lt. Gen. Donald E. Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, also testifyied at the hearing.
The Navy also is upgrading the mission systems of its C-130s.
“For fiscal 2019 the Navy requested $28.5 million for avionics and communications obsolescence upgrades to keep the aircraft compliant with FAA and ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] standards to be able to enter air traffic management systems throughout the world,” Conn said. “These modernization efforts are critical to maintaining Navy logistics support to our deployed forces.”
The Navy completed procurement of the C-130Ts in 1996.
“We’re now looking at recapitalizing our effort beginning with advance procurement and buying three [C-130J] aircraft in FY ’23,” Conn said.