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General Moseley testifies on C-130 fleet, readiness

by Tech. Sgt. David A. Jablonski
Air Force Print News

3/7/2005 - WASHINGTON -- U.S. Representatives questioned the condition of the C-130 Hercules fleet during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on readiness March 3.

It was just one of the areas Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley discussed as he testified on the readiness of the force and to what extent the president's fiscal 2006 budget request supports future readiness levels.

"We're facing readiness challenges in a number of platforms," General Moseley said in his opening statement. "Our No. 1 challenge is to recapitalize aging systems."

General Moseley first answered questions about the status of the unmanned aerial vehicle fleet and about improvements being made to the A-10 Thunderbolt II. But questions focused mainly on the aging aircraft.

"We've got about 6,100 airplanes," General Moseley said, "and we've got about 2,200 airplanes that are either grounded or operating under some flight restriction.

"That flight restriction could be something very minimal. But, it could be something very significant, like the C-130Es, where we can't carry the fuel, or we can't carry the weight, or we can't maneuver the airplane because of the wing box or the spar assembly."

Rep. Robin Hayes said the Air Force needed to raise the volume level of its concerns about the C-130 fleet.

"A lot of us in Congress and many of the general public do not know the seriousness of this problem," Congressman Hayes said. "I'm asking you all to bring this to a much higher level of attention, because it is one of the worst crises that we face. We are spending millions and billions of dollars trying to fix and repair airplanes that are getting more and more expensive and less and less available," he said.

Rep. Jim Marshall said, "(Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld in earlier testimony . specifically said that air mobility is a critical thing we need to be focused on. And yet the budget cuts (funding to the) C-130J."

Congressman Marshall said ongoing mobility capability studies say that cutting the C-130J program at the same time C-130E models are being grounded in Iraq did not make sense.

"I also think that cutting (the) C-130J, the way it's structured, is going to wind up being extremely foolish economically," he said.

General Moseley said he believes the two studies, to be released soon, may call for reconsideration.

One study is the 2005 Mobility Capability Study, and the other is by the Joint Staff, that the Air Force requested, to look at intratheater lift," he said.

"I think both of those will suggest we take another look at the C-130J opportunity and the C-130J multiyear," General Moseley said.

He said the Air Force has more than 500 C-130s. Two hundred are E models, more than 30 of which are grounded.

"And we're looking at having to ground another 50 or so because of wing spar and wing box issues," General Moseley said.

On the other hand, the general said, the C-130Js now in the field have a proven mission-capability rate of more than 95 percent.

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