Leader Blues

Saturday, March 22, 2008

TOP STORY > >Guard to get revamped C-130

By CHRISTY HENDRICKS
Leader staff writer

Arkansas Air National Guard airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base had a sneak peak at the Arkansas Air National Guard’s newest plane — the C-130 AMP — when it arrived Friday at the base for a show-and-tell session. AMP stands for avionics modernization program.

The C-130 AMP on display is a 1980s-era C-130H2.5 that has received upgraded avionics in the cockpit by Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer. The Air Force will upgrade more than 200 1980s-era C-130s with the technology.

The Arkansas ANG’s 189th Airlift Wing will be the schoolhouse that teaches aircrews how to fly the C-130 AMP.

The 189th AW expects to have a simulator certified ready for use in December 2009 and receive its first AMP in 2010.

Instructors and the initial crews are to be trained around July 2010. The aircraft at Little Rock AFB will be for training purposes.

The 189th AW will be certified as the AMP formal training unit around 2013.

Boeing was awarded the contract for the C130 AMP in 2001 and is the sole source to manufacture 26 avionics upgrade kits.

Eleven of those kits will be installed by Boeing and 15 will be installed by the Air Force. The kits will take the analog displays from the C130H2.5 and upgrade to digital high- tech displays. This will allow pilots to use the displays while flying, making flights safer.

Pilots will not have to look around for the buttons they need because everything will be right at their fingertips, according to Deborah VanNierop with Boeing communications.

The AMP has a modern digital glass cockpit featuring six multi-function displays plays, pilot and co-pilot wide-field of view headup displays, two communication and navigation-control panels and night-vision imaging system compliance.

The plane’s advanced digital avionics offers superior vision, which allows for smaller crews and eliminates the navigator.

Boeing is waiting on the go-ahead from the Air Force to begin installation of the kits.

The C-130 AMP that landed yesterday flew from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to Louisville, Ky., before heading to Little Rock AFB. While in Louisville, the plane went through a head-to-tail inspection, known as an isochoronal inspection. The aircraft
will be returning to Edwards AFB over the weekend.

“We’re excited to see what will eventually be one of our newest C-130s,” said Col. Jim Summers, 189th Airlift Wing commander. “We’ll eventually have nine C-130 AMP aircraft on our ramp.”

Mark Angelo, Boeing’s C-130 AMP deputy program manager, said, “We are pleased to be here with members of the Arkansas Air National Guard. We are working together applying AMP to shape the future of the C-130.”

“Boeing’s AMP ensures the affordable long-term combat relevance of the C-130 Hercules for years to come,” he added.

With the return of the H2.5 to the Air Force test center at Edwards Air Force Base, Boeing has two C-130 AMP aircraft at the test facility. A third aircraft, H3, is undergoing modifications and upgrades at Boeing Support Systems’ San Antonio, Texas, facility.

“Working with the 189th has been a real pleasure,” said VanNierop, the Boeing spokesperson. “We’re looking forward to getting the first aircraft out there and getting them a functional squadron up and running.”