Leader Blues

Friday, March 07, 2008

TOP STORY > >Air base lands another C-130J

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The 41st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base received its sixth C-130J aircraft Thursday.

The 41st AS is the newest unit of the 463rd Airlift Group, standing up at LRAFB from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., last April as part of the base realignment and closure process. The “Black Cats” are also the first active-duty combat C-130J Hercules squadron in the Air Force. They received their first new J model last March.

Seven other ultra-modern C-130Js with the 314th Airlift Wing are used for training at the base.

The 41st AS, along with the 463rd Airlift Maintenance Squadron, will be home for the new aircraft, which cost $65 million each.

The C-130J was delivered from the Lockheed-Martin factory in Marietta, Ga., by Brig. Gen. Mark S. Solo, deputy director, Air, Space andInformation Operations, Head-quarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

“This is certainly one of the highlights of my career,” Solo told the small crowd on hand to celebrate the plane’s arrival.

“I have about 5,000 hours in the Air Force and most of it in heavy jet transports, the C5, the C141, C17, so I have no time at all in the Herc and I have absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed the last two days at Lockheed, and now having the pleasure and the privilege to be a part of this ceremony, and bring the aircraft to Little Rock.”

Commander of the 463rd Airlift Group Col. Jeffrey Hoffer ceremoniously accepted the plane at LRAFB.

“There’s a lot of great things going on here, and a lot of hard work, and I can’t be prouder to accept this airplane,” Hoffer said.
Solo praised the Hercules models and the airmen at LRAFB who are employing it.

“The C-130J is a champion of air mobility and intra-theater airlift. Each J-model we receive brings greater range, speed and flexibility to the mobility arsenal,” Solo said.

“It’s an honor to deliver such a vital capability to our warfighters at Little Rock who are employing the J-model in combat today in the war on terror.”

The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet and will replace aging C-130Es.

The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology to reduce manpower requirements from a five-person crew to a three-person crew – two pilots and a loadmaster, lower operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models.

Compared to older C-130s, the J model climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance.

The 463rd AG, the Air Force’s premier C-130 airlift wing for more than 50 years, is a primary component of the global war on terror and the war in Iraq.

It is credited with taking more than 5,200 convoys off the Iraqi roads.