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C-130 Hercules
Avionics Modernization Program

The C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (initially referred to as C-130X AMP, and simply C-130 AMP as of March 2007) was developed to modify approximately 525 aircraft to establish a common, supportable, cost effective baseline configuration for AMC, ACC, ANG, AFRC, PACAF, USAFE and AFSOC C-130 aircraft. The contractor would design, develop, integrate, test, fabricate and install a new avionics suite for approximately thirteen variants of C-130 Combat Delivery and Special Mission models. The installation schedule required an upgrade schedule of between 65 and 85 aircraft per year through 2010. The acquisition strategy was currently in development. The C-130 AMP was being worked jointly by Warner-Robins ALC (GA) and Aero Systems Center (OH) (virtual SPO) with the Development System Manager located at ASC.

In April 2000, under RFP No. F33657-99-R-0033, the USAF solicitied proposals for various activities associated with the planned C-130 AMP. Initial proposals were submitted during the summer of 2000 by Lockheed, Raytheon, BAE, and McDonnell Douglas Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing. On 13 February, 2001, the contracting officer requested submission of FPRs, which all four offerors submitted on 2 March. On 9 March 2001, the contracting officer reopened discussions and a second round of FPRs was requested; the second FPRs were submitted on 19 March. On 4 June 2001 the Boeing Company was selected to perform the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, which has a total potential value of approximately $4 billion. Lockheed, Raytheon and BAE Systems PLC also were competing for the C-130 contract.

Under the program, there would be a cockpit modernization program replacing aging, unreliable subsystems, and adding equipment necessary to meet navigation and safety and Global Air Traffic Management requirements. New equipment was intended to lower the cost of ownership by reducing cockpit crew manning as well as increasing aircraft reliability, maintainability, and sustainability. The C-130 AMP was intended to provide an improved precision airdrop capability for the combat delivery fleet, meet Night Vision Imaging System requirements, and improve the C-130's precision approach and landing capability. It was planned that under this program the interfaces necessary would be provided to integrate real time information in the cockpit. A standard cockpit layout was planned allowing pilots to be trained to fly in any AMP aircraft cockpit and to undergo mission qualification when reaching a specific unit. In addition, selected Special Operations Forces aircraft would undergo additional modification under the C-130 AMP/Common Avionics Architecture for Penetration (CAAP) program.

Aircraft modifications would be performed by the company at its Boeing Aerospace Support Center in San Antonio, Texas, as well as by the Air Force at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., and Ogden Air Logistics Center, Utah. Modification kit installations were scheduled to begin in 2004 and then continue through 2014, and reaching a rate of about 70 per year at peak production.

Boeing's open-system architecture approach was designed to benefit from the Boeing investment in the Bold Stroke avionics technology, synergy with the C-17 Globemaster III avionics system, and a proven large-scale avionics integration experience. Key suppliers to Boeing on the C-130 AMP program included Smiths Industries, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Telephonics.

Reductions in FY03 and FY04 delayed the C-130 AMP's development program, which resulted in a rescheduling of program milestones and rebaselining of the program. The design review, low-rate initial production, and production readiness decisions were all delayed. While program officials stated that the delay in schedule would provide more time to resolve issues with the TF/TA technology and software, the delay in fielding was not acceptable to the Special Operations Command. They added funding to mature the TF/TA technology through a series of flight demonstrations prior to the formal developmental test and evaluation period. The system integration schedule was compressed by 9 months by accelerating installation of core and mission-unique capabilities on Special Operations aircraft. However, this allowed less time to reduce manufacturing risks and further compressed an already optimistic time line according to the Government Accountability Office.

The program office made progress during 2005 toward meeting its goal of releasing 90 percent of the design drawings, a measure of design stability, by design readiness review, scheduled for August of that year. This would be 9 months sooner than anticipated by the GAO in 2004, due to the acceleration of key program dates to meet Special Operations Command requirements. As of March 2005, 48 percent of the design drawings were complete and could be released to manufacturing. Program officials stated they were committed to meeting the required 90 percent drawing release by design review.

Following procurement scandals involving both prime contractor Boeing and Air Force procurement official Darlene Druyun, the GAO recommended that portions of the C-130 AMP contract be recompeted, in spite of USAF assertions that Druyun had not affected the C-130 AMP program. While Lockheed Martin's protests were subsequently sustained, the resolution saw Boeing continue as prime contractor for the program.

As of December 2005, 100 percent of required drawings for Combat Delivery First Flight had been released. Program delays resulted from funding cuts, and sustained development contract protests required a portion of the contract to be recompeted. The August 2005 design review was still postponed indefinitely as of a March 2006 GAO report, and the low rate initial production decision had been delayed until June of that year. The program was also experiencing a restructuring at the time that threatened to cause further delays.

In October 2006 the Air Force Cost Analysis Improvement Group estimated that the C-130 AMP program would more than double in cost. A March 2007 Government Accountability Office report showed that program officials had admitted that they did not have a sound understanding of installation complexities. Critical technologies for the upgrade program were declared mature, but the issues with conversion led to delaying the production decision until November 2007. A full rate production readiness review was scheduled for May 2009. The report also noted that the intended number of aircraft to be upgraded had been reduced by 31, and that USSOCOM had removed funding for the CAAP program from planned budgets for FY2008 and forward.

A subsequent GAO report in March 2008 showed that the program was being restructured to provide a better balance between requirements and resources. Between 2007 and 2008, the program reduced the number of aircraft and variants to be modified and increased estimated costs, which resulted in a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach concerning unit cost increases. The program acquisition unit costs increased to over three times what was expected at development start in 1996. The program planned to enter production in June 2008, over 3 years later than originally planned. However, production maturity would not be fully known at that time because the program did not plan to collect key manufacturing information.

As of March 2008 all of the C-130 AMP critical technologies were declared fully mature. Removal of 11 of the 14 C-130 aircraft configurations previously included in the program was expected to stabilize the program through reduced requirements and led to the removal of three critical technologies during 2007. The three remaining critical technologies, global air traffic management, defensive systems, and combat delivery navigator removal, were specific to the combat delivery configurations of the C-130 fleet, which comprised the entire AMP following program restructuring in 2007.

By the time of the 2008 GAO report, two of the three C-130 aircraft configurations included in the AMP had begun flight testing. However, several key development activities remained that could necessitate design changes if problems appeared, including demonstration of technology on the fully integrated test aircraft. Developmental flight testing was expected to conclude in June 2009. The first flight of a fully configured, integrated production representative prototype occurred for the initial C-130 aircraft configuration in September 2006, while the first flight for the final C-130 configuration was scheduled for February 2009.

The program expected to begin production in June 2008, but would not have data that showed the total number of key product characteristics, the maturity of critical manufacturing processes, or capability indices. Program officials stated they would meet the approved exit criteria established by the milestone decision authority, which included a Production Readiness Review scheduled for March 2008, before entering into low-rate initial production. Since the beginning of 2006, the low-rate initial production decision had been delayed 19 months due to program uncertainties related to program funding and changing customer requirements. However, changes in the program schedule were expected to allow for more testing before the program increases production rates.

The C-130 AMP experienced uncertainty and restructuring for more than 2 years. In February 2007, the program announced it encountered a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach concerning unit cost increases that led to DoD certification, resulting in a formal replan effort to revise requirements. At the time of the 2008 GAO review, the program was still finalizing the details of the replan, which included reallocating resources within the program and reducing requirements (fewer aircraft quantities and fewer configurations for the program). The program manager expected that the replan would better position the program to deliver the C-130 AMP within cost and schedule targets. However, the program did not have an updated acquisition strategy, test and evaluation master plan, or service cost position. This information was expected by the production decision in June 2008. The Air Force had to develop an investment strategy, as stipulated in the DoD certification, for 166 C-130 aircraft that were no longer part of the program.

Given the significant changes to the C-130 program, the Air Force was paying more to modernize the avionics for far fewer aircraft than originally planned. At the same time, the warfighter was waiting longer than originally planned for the new capability.

In response to the GAO's 2008 assessment, the Air Force stated the C-130 AMP was focused on restructuring the development effort and proceeding into low-rate initial production in June 2008. The program accomplished first flight without a serious software deficiency, incremental software was delivered on time, and flight testing was slightly ahead of schedule. The program also addressed past issues and was committed to providing the warfighter a critically needed capability.

Unless the C-130H fleet is modernized, the aircraft will be inoperable in 2020 due to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and international safety regulations. Since 2011 the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) had been the designated program to upgrade the C-130H fleet to ensure compliance with national and international regulations before the 2020 deadline. Due to significant cost overruns, the U.S. Air Force announced in 2012 that it wanted to abandon the AMP program and pursue a more fiscally responsible solution. A cost-benefit study, mandated by Congress, found that modernizing just the navigation systems of the C-130H fleet would cost a quarter of the AMP program, resulting in savings of $12 million per aircraft while still allowing the C-130H models to meet all flight and airspace safety requirements by 2020.

The C-130 Modernization Act gave the U.S. Air Force the option to pursue this more targeted and fiscally responsible modernization approach or pursue the full modifications of the AMP program. The legislation does not cancel the AMP program, but instead gives the Secretary of the Air Force the flexibility to determine the best approach to upgrading the C-130H fleet before the 2020 deadline.

On 06 October 2014 Congressman John Carney (D-DE) visited with Delaware Adjutant General Francis Vavala and the members of the Delaware Air National Guard to discuss the C-130H Modernization Act (H.R. 5119), bipartisan legislation Carney introduced to modernize the Air Guards fleet of C-130H aircraft in a safe and fiscally responsible way. This could continue the Delaware National Guards C-130 flying mission, along with associated jobs.

In the House Armed Services Committee report (H. Rept. 113-446) accompanying the Howard P. Buck McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, the committee expressed a concern that the Department of the Air Force has not been taking actions to ensure that the C-130H aircraft fleet was being upgraded with modifications that address obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources, and increased operations and sustainment costs.

The committee noted that for fiscal year 2016, the C-130H modernization program included a center wing box replacement program and a program to address certain airspace compliance concerns. The committee supported this modernization program and encouraged the Air Force to address cockpit modifications required to mitigate obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing sources. The committee believed that a comprehensive program should be developed to ensure that the C-130H has a service life through 2040 as currently planned.

The report of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review states that the Department of the Air Force will maintain 300 combat-coded C-130H and C-130J aircraft in the tactical airlift fleet inventory to support requirements and the objectives of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. The Department planned to divest C-130 aircraft in the Future Years Defense Program so that the tactical airlift fleet is reduced to 308, and the committee House Armed Services Committee believed that that the Department of the Air Force inventory of C-130 aircraft should not be less than 308 aircraft. To provide for improved C-130H propulsion performance, reliability, and efficiency, the committee recommended $71.7 million for C-130 modifications, an increase of $33.2 million for the T-56 3.5 engine modification and an increase of $30.0 million for the C-130 eightbladed propeller upgrade.

The the Chief of Staff of the Air Force proposed a plan that finally addresses the longstanding concern for the modernization of C-130H aircraft that reside primarily in the National Guard and Reserve components of the Department of the Air Force. The plan is referred to as the Avionics and Modernization Program (AMP) Increments 1 and 2. However, the plan's timeline for implementation may still leave some C-130H aircraft non-compliant with future airspace requirements and still susceptible to increased diminishing manufacturing sources (DMS) and obsolescence issues.

Specifically, the proposed timeline proposes to complete certain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compliance concerns by 2022, two years after FAA direction, requiring noncompliant aircraft to seek waivers or limit flight operations. Additionally, the AMP increment 2 only supports 8 aircraft modernizations per year which also does not appear to support a fleet viability requirement.

The House Armed Services Committee supported an acceleration of the modernization effort both in terms of meeting FAA compliance by the 2020 deadline and acceleration of the increment 2 modernization plan. Therefore, the committee directed the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report on the implementation of C-130H AMP Increments 1 and 2 to the congressional defense committees by March 1, 2016.

On 25 November 2015 US Representative Sam Graves amendment protecting the fleet of C-130H aircraft was adopted into law when President Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment, which authorized $10 million toward the Air Forces plan to modernize and preserve the aircraft, was included in multiple versions of this years NDAA bills that passed both the House and Senate. For decades, the C-130H has been a critical component of National Guard units across the country, particularly in St. Joe, Rep. Graves said. The aircraft provides tactical support to our troops on the ground, protecting them from enemies and allowing them to more safely and effectively execute the missions that are critical to our national defense.

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