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C-130J software upgrades get final adjustment

by Capt. Catie Hague
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/7/2005 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN)  -- October through December was a critical time for the C-130J Hercules' Block 5.4 upgrade, as testers here determined the final adjustments needed to bring this software improvement to the operational fleet.

Currently, the C-130J has certain operational limitations, but the upgrade was designed to correct these shortcomings by enhancing the cargo-handling system, as well as advancing the communication, navigation and identification systems, officials said.

The 418th Flight Test Squadron's recent testing included formation flying, air drop events, traffic collision avoidance system tests, computer-based approach testing and the most comprehensive noise and vibration tests ever conducted on the C-130, said Maj. Clifton Janney, 418th FLTS multiengine test pilot.

"One of the key functions we've been evaluating (is) upgrades for the back end of the aircraft," said Michael Berard, program manager. "This software tells us how to load the cargo and how to get rid of it.

"Right now, the C-130J has limited air drop capability releases," he said. "There is a 28,000-pound limit on the release of container delivery systems even though the max allowable weight is 42,000 pounds."

This weight limit is because of safety issues; the buffer stop assembly system that secures the pallets can only withstand so much pressure.

"However, with the low velocity air drop capability," Mr. Berard said, "we're allowed to drop the maximum weight, and (we) actually performed (a) drop of 40,440 pounds."

The low-velocity pallets are bigger than standard pallets and are held in place by anchors rather than the buffer stops.

"Our two-and-a-half-month testing (identified) these discrepancies, as well as other problems with the defensive systems and air land operations," Mr. Berard said.

The software was returned to the manufacturer and is currently undergoing modifications to correct these deficiencies, he said. Software testing will continue in February.

"When finished in May, we expect the air-drop envelope to be cleared up to the max drop weight," Mr. Berard said. "We also expect to see a better navigation solution and improved communications."

The upgrades are scheduled to be operational within the C-130J by the fall.

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