Air Force officials unveil new rescue aircraft model
by Airman 1st Class Brigitte Brantley
23rd Wing Public Affairs
4/20/2010 - MARIETTA, Ga. (AFNS) -- A new model of an aircraft used in Air Force rescue efforts since 1956 was formally presented to the Air Force in a ceremony April 19 here.
The HC-130J Super Hercules combat rescue tanker is configured to provide support to special operations missions and will become a backbone of Moody Air Force Base's mission upon reaching its scheduled initial operating capability in 2012.
The geographically separated 563rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., as well as Kirtland AFB, N.M., will be the first bases to receive the new model for training purposes once it has undergone initial testing, which typically takes about a year.
"The unveiling of this new model is the dawn of a new day in personnel recovery," said Ross Reynolds, the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company C-130 programs manager. "There are few missions as honorable or challenging, and we are extremely proud to present our oldest customer with this vastly more capable version of the C-130."
The aircraft was designed with mission flexibility in mind. It's capable of combat delivery, air-to-air refueling, special operations and humanitarian and disaster relief missions, all of which equate to increased ground and air combat effectiveness.
"The recapitalization of the C-130 fleet is a big deal and the new model represents a quantum leap in technology which allows us to continue completing the mission," said Maj. Gen. Thomas K. Andersen, the Air Combat Command director of requirements. "Right now, the C-130 has one of the lowest availability rates in the Air Force and the introduction of the J-model will increase that rate by 46 percent as well as decrease needed crewmembers from seven to five."
The increase in capability comes from a slew of new features that differ greatly from those in the first operational model of the C-130 that debuted in 1956 and has the longest continuously-running military production line in history.
"The ability to complete the mission is improved because of several innovations with the J-model," General Andersen said. "There is an improved diagnostic system, a universal air refueling receptacle on top of the aircraft and enhanced generators which enable us to power more equipment.
"There is also a 34 percent increase in space, which allows more pallets to be loaded," he said. "Fuel capacity and efficiency are also greatly improved and allow us to fly for longer periods of time."
In addition to the operational features, there are also improvements to the quality of life for crewmembers while on board. These include an improved air conditioning system, flushable toilet and a microwave.
"The new features of this aircraft are great and will definitely make life easier for anyone who works with them," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Schlauderaff, who will be one of the first loadmasters to be assigned to the HC-130J. "One thing extremely notable is the improved diagnostics system and how computers are now used to find out what is wrong much quicker.
"Before, it was having one thing go wrong with four or five possible solutions," he said. "Now, it is much quicker to find out what is wrong and maintenance needed between flights decreases sharply from 30 hours to eight hours."
Other features on the aircraft include an internal winch, built-in roller, faster ramp, electronic locks for loading and a built-in tow plate for air drops, all aimed at saving man-hours without compromising mission capabilities.
"The increase mission capability makes this model quite valuable to the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Janet Kasmer, the ACC HC/MC-130J recapitalization program manager. "Right now, we have authorization to buy five more J-models, with four of those aircraft being purchased in the next fiscal year."
Other variants of the C-130J include models specialized for aerial and ground refueling, weather reconnaissance, electronic warfare, special operations and combat delivery.
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