Air Transportation: C-130J Taking Over


June 10, 2009: The U.S. Air Force is buying 172 of the new model C-130Js, to replace 200 worn out C-130Es. Thus the C-130 continues to thrive after over half a century, because they are a reliable and inexpensive way to move cargo to improvised airfields. The C-130J is proving popular with foreign users as well. The Persian Gulf state of Oman just ordered a C-130J-30, the extra long (stretched) model. Oman already has the three C-130Hs, which it purchased nearly three decades ago, and which are still in use. Eleven other foreign countries have ordered C-130Js.

Oman, a large nation of about three million people strategically located on the souteastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, with coasts on both the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, has been a very strong ally of the US for decades, and a committed partner in the war on Islamist extremism; American and Coalition forces have operated out of Oman in support of military and naval operations the region since 2001, and Omani special forces are believed to have engaged in combat missions in Afghanistan.

The C-130J transport proved to be more than just another model in the fifty year old C-130 design. Mainly because it's cheaper and easier to use. Like most new commercial transports, the C-130 emphasizes saving money. The new engines generate 29 percent more thrust while using 15 percent less fuel. Increased automation reduced crew size from four to three. The C-130J is more reliable and easier to maintain. And this isn't all predictions. So far, C-130Js have cost nearly twenty percent less per hour than previous models.

 The most common version of the C-130 still in service is the C-130H. It has a range of 8,368 kilometers, a top speed of 601 kilometers per hour, and can carry up to 18 tons of cargo, 92 troops, or 64 paratroopers. The latest version, the C-130J, has a top speed of 644 kilometers, 40 percent more range than the C-130H, and can carry 20 tons of cargo. The stretched C-130J-30 can carry more bulky cargo, and goes for about $100 million each. The C-130J has a top speed of 644 kilometers, 40 percent more range than the C130H. The C-130 has been in service for over half a century, and has been in service of over 50 countries.

The manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, used a billion dollars of its own money to develop the C-130J, which ended up costing much more than the previous model, C-130H. The C-130J was better than the C-130H, and cheaper to operate, but the air force is still going to upgrade and refurbish several hundred older C-130s, mainly by replacing the center portion (the wing box), which is most prone to fatigue, and installing new electronics (which makes the aircraft cheaper to operate and maintain.) But many older C-130s are simply too expensive to upgrade, so sales of the C-130J will continue to climb.




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