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C-130J - Design

The C-130J was a modification of the C-130H, undertaken by Lockheed Martin as a private venture, with intended sales to the United States and various foreign markets. The C-130J/J-30 integrated digital technology was designed to provide the capability to airdrop in instrument conditions without zone markers, as a baseline feature of the aircraft. When the high resolution ground mapping capability of the AN/APN-241 Low Power Color Radar is coupled with the dual INS/GPS and digital mapping systems, the C-130J/J-30 would provide a single-ship or formation all weather aerial delivery. This meant the entire J/J-30 fleet would be all weather airdrop capable. C-130Js were intended to be delivered as weather (WC), electronic combat (EC), and tanker (KC) configured aircraft in addition to the standard cargo configuration.

The new C-130J was intended to be more than an evolutionary leap. It was developed in response to Air Force concerns about the growing cost of operating its older tactical airlift fleet and from a desire to take advantage of technology that could offer significant operational leverage in supporting combat forces at the point of attack. The C-130J introduced new technologies and designs that would significantly reduce the life-cycle cost of operating the aircraft while dramatically improving overall system reliability. These new technologies would make aircraft maintenance simpler and far less frequent than earlier generations of the C-130 aircraft. The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology that significantly improved performance and reduced ownership costs. Lockheed Martin projected that the C-130J/J-30 would lower cost of ownership by as much as 45% depending on the scenario used. Early model C-130s required more than 20 maintenance manhours per flight hour (MMH/FH) while it was intended that the C-130J/J-30 will require 10 or less MMH/FH.

The standard C-130J has essentially the same dimensions as the C-130E/H but the stretched J-30 version added 15 feet. The J-30 incorporates two extension plugs, one forward and one aft. The forward plug is 100 inches long while the rear plug is 80 inches for a total of 180 inches or 15 feet. With its 3,000 nautical mile range, increased speed, and air refueling capability, the C-130J-30 would complement the C-5/C-17 airlift team. The J-30 was designed to work in the strategic, as well as tactical or intratheater, environment. The J-30 was planned to be an effective force multiplier in executing the US Army Strategic Brigade Airdrop (SBA). The J-30 could airdrop 100% of the SBA requirement. No longer was it necessary to expend scarce heavy lift resources on strategic contingency requirements. Whether it be a channel, special airlift, training, or contingency airdrop mission, the J-30 is projected to be able to handle it all at a significantly reduced cost.

The extended C-130J (formerly C-130J-30 and CC-130J) aircraft provided additional cargo carrying capacity for the USAF combat delivery mission. The longer aircraft could handle up to 128 combat troops, 92 paratroopers or a combination of passengers and their cargo up to the compartment capacity. Compared with the older Hercules' capacity of 92 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, planners said it makes mathematical sense to use the longer aircraft. Fewer sorties could mean fewer risks to aircraft, crews and troops. While minimizing potential risks ranks above and beyond cost benefits, the Js have also contributed to substantial savings in that arena.

Load Comparisons

Cargo Floor Length 40 ft 55 ft 37%
463L Pallets 5 7 40%
Medical Litters 74 97 31%
CDS Bundles 16 24 50%
Combat Troops 92 128 39%
Paratroopers 64 92 44%

DOD had mandated Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) and navigation safety (nav safety) capabilities for the C-130J weapon system. USAF C/CC/EC/WC-130J aircraft, in the Block 5.3 configuration, are partially GATM/nav safety compliant. Capabilities provided in the Block 5.3 configuration included Required Navigation Performance (RNP)-10 (miles), RNP-5, Basic Area Navigation (BRNAV), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) Version 7.0, FM immunity for Instrument Landing System (aka protected ILS), and the aircraft communications system software necessary to operate VHF communications radios with 8.33 MHz frequency separation. The RDT&E funds would enable development, integration, and testing of the remaining GATM/nav safety requirements needed on USAF C/CC/EC/WC-130J aircraft. These capabilities include RNP-4, RNP-1, Terrain Approach Warning System (TAWS), Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) Global Positioning System (GPS), Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS), Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), Mode Select (Mode S) Beacon Transponder System with data link capability, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Address (ADS-A), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), satellite communications (SATCOM) voice and data link capability, high frequency data link (HFDL), Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), and AMC Mobility 2000 (M2K) communications.

C/CC/EC/WC-130J aircraft were modified using a 'block upgrade' strategy. The full GATM/nav safety requirement was met in four block upgrades: Block 6.0, which begins with FY03 RDT&E funding and continues with FY04 RDT&E funding, Block 7.0, which will start in FY05, Block 8.0, which will start in FY07, and Block 9.0, which will start in FY09. The proportion of GATM/nav safety requirements allocated to Blocks 6.0 thru 9.0 was determined via a design trade study conducted by Lockheed Martin (the C-130J prime contractor) and verified by the C-130J system program office and AMC.

From October to December 2004, tests at Edwards AFB determined the final adjustments needed to bring the C-130J Hercules' Block 5.4 upgrade software improvement to the operational fleet. The upgrade was designed to correct operational limitations present in C-130Js by enhancing the cargo-handling system, as well as advancing the communication, navigation and identification systems. The 418th Flight Test Squadron's 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. Prior to the upgrade, the C-130J had limited air drop capability releases with a 28,000-pound limit on the release of container delivery systems even though the max allowable weight is 42,000 pounds.

The weight limit was put in place because of safety issues with the buffer stop assembly system that secured the pallets only being able to withstand so much pressure. However, with the low velocity air drop capability, the C-130J aircraft would be able to drop the maximum weight, given that the low-velocity pallets are bigger than standard pallets and are held in place by anchors rather than the buffer stops. The software was returned to the manufacturer and was as of early January 2005 undergoing modifications to correct these deficiencies. Software testing was expected to continue in February 2005 with completion expected in May, and the upgrades scheduled to be operational within the C-130J by the fall 2005. Operational testing of the C-130J scheduled for November 2005, will determine whether the plane will meet full operational requirements.

In December 2004 the C-130J Hercules from the Maryland Air National Guard left on its first deployment in Iraq. The deployment group met initially in Baltimore in July 2004 to map out the strategy to get everything in place. The culmination of the six months of work came on 10 December 2004 when the first C-130J to deploy into combat left Quonset, Rhode Island.

In February 2005, back-to-back sorties - eight flown in eight days - cleared the air drop envelope on the stretch C-130J for the container delivery system, or CDS, to carry up to nearly 40,000 pounds of equipment packaged in bundles. The CDS was used in combat to deliver the 'bacon and bullets' to warfighters in the field, and of the 168 bundles released between January 24th and 28th of that year, none were damaged and tests attained a 100 percent survivability rate. During the sorties, Army testers had a specific objective as to what the damage rate can be expected in order to calculate how much equipment is needed to be dropped so that warfighters on the ground receive the amount needed. The 100-percent survivability rate would mean the stretch C-130J does not have to carry extra equipment and supplies for the Army. The first of four planned modernization efforts to upgrade the baseline aircraft were tested during 2007, and installation on fielded aircraft began in 2008. The second modernization effort, a collaborative endeavor funded by both the Air Force and foreign military customers, was in the initial planning stages, with developmental testing scheduled to begin in FY10. The other two modernization efforts were in a preliminary planning stage, with upgrade activities expected to continue through 2015. The Air Force had budgeted approximately $400 million, as of 2008, in development funding to pursue the four modernization efforts that does not include the additional costs to install these upgrades on fielded C-130Js in the future.

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