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Wed, Mar 24, 2004

The Air Force's Newest Arrival

First C-130J Arrives For Active Duty

The US Air Force has welcomed its newest combat-ready aircraft. The first C-130J Hercules assigned to an active-duty unit arrived at the Little Rock Air Force Base on March 19. Little Rock AFB is scheduled to have seven C-130Js by December 2005. The J model represents a quantum leap forward in transport airlift technology, bringing 40 percent greater performance over the current C-130, Colonel Reheiser said. It can fly farther, faster, higher and longer while carrying more equipment or people. Onboard computer advances have allowed the removal of the flight engineer and the navigator, making the J model less expensive to operate in terms of man-hours. It can also carry heavier loads, more people and take off or land on shorter runways than the previous models were capable of.

"We are proud to call Little Rock Air Force Base and central Arkansas home of the United States Air Force’s first active-duty C-130J," said Col. Joseph Reheiser, 314th Airlift Wing commander. "We look forward to the challenge of training the world’s finest C-130J aircrew members and maintainers for years to come. The J model looks like a C-130 and it sounds like a C-130, but in reality it is a totally new airplane."

Lt. Col. David Kasberg, 48th Airlift Squadron commander, flew the new aircraft here from the Lockheed Martin production facility at Dobbins Air Reserve Base (GA).

"This aircraft will give us the capability to train aircrews to get the J in the fight,” Colonel Kasberg said. "And by getting the J in the fight, we can provide relief to the C-130 E and H crews who are out there in the desert right now."

The J model has a digital "brain" now, instead of the earlier model’s analog instrumentation. If the aircraft experiences an engine problem, the onboard computer identifies it and warns the pilots and configures a solution. The J model is a more proficient performer in the air, but its cost effectiveness and improved design become even more evident when the plane is on the ground. The digital aircraft allows real-time information to be shared between the aircraft and the maintainers.

"The J model’s greatest asset to maintainers is the portable maintenance aid,” said 1st Lt. Alexander Santiago of the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “The PMA is a small diagnostic computer that allows a maintainer to digitally ‘ask’ the plane what is malfunctioning and get an instantaneous and accurate response. Previously, when an aircraft part malfunctioned the maintainer had to track a repair from a symptom back to the faulty part and then fix the part. Now the PMA tells the maintainer what is broken and where it is. That will save us time and money."

ANN thanks USAF Senior Airman Jason Neal for this article.



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