Leader Blues

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TOP STORY >>Fifth C-130J arrives at air base

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

Lt. Gen. Dennis Larsen, vice commander of the Air Education and Training Command, piloted a new C-130J to Little Rock Air Force Base Tuesday from the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, Ga. The plane is the air base’s fifth active-duty C-130J, aircraft No. 3147.

“I spent about 20 minutes in a simulator, we had lunch and I flew this plane on its first mission here,” Larsen said. “That’s how easy this plane is to fly.”

It is the first of three C-130Js scheduled for delivery to Little Rock Air Force Base during December. The base will take delivery of two additional C-130Js on Dec. 15 and 21.

“Congress will decide how many more we get after that,” said Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of Little Rock Air Force Base. The base currently has 83 older C-130E aircraft.

“As we get in more J’s, we’ll reduce the inventory of E’s so our aircraft fleet numbers stay stable,” Self said.
“This is, after all, the C-130 center of excellence,” he added.

Larsen presented the keys to the new C-130J to Sgt. Ben Hannah, a crew chief with the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron during a brief ceremony in a hangar at the base.

“The biggest improvement, to me, is the heads-up display,” Larsen said.
The heads-up display is a fold-down piece of plastic, about an inch thick on which maps, radar and other tactical information is projected.
“As far as improvements for the mission, that engine and propeller design lets the J fly longer, further and higher,” Larsen said. “This plane is fantastic.”

Guests for the ceremony included Gen. Don C. Morrow, the adjutant general of Arkansas; Col. Travis D. Balch, commander of the 189th Air National Guard Airlift Wing housed at Little Rock Air Force Base, and base personnel.

The 314th Airlift Wing will use the new C-130J to train aircrews and maintainers on how to operate this newest version of the Hercules.
Published reports put the cost of each plane between $63 million and $83 million. About 117 of the planes were in the original order with Lockheed Martin.

The Defense Department submitted a recommendation to Congress to stop buying C-130Js, but the Air Force’s fleet of C-130s is aging without a suitable substitute in sight. Pressure from the military and congressional leaders has ensured continued production of the C-130Js.

Under Larsen’s supervision, AETC trains and educates more than 370,000 C-130 students and serves as the headquarters for Little Rock Air Force Base.

Larsen has more than 4,100 flying hours in aircraft such as the A-7 Corsair, F-4 Phantom, F-16CJ Wild Weasel and F-117A Night-hawk. Larsen was the fifth operational pilot to fly the F-117A Nighthawk.