Leader Blues

Monday, May 11, 2009

TOP STORY >> Base gets another C-130J

Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command, on Wednesday delivered the 13th of 16 C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The aircraft will be assigned to the 41st Airlift Squadron, the first active-duty combat C-130J squadron in the Air Force. Three more C-130Js should arrive here this year.

Col. Greg Otey, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing, Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim, Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams and Jacksonville banker Larry Wilson were on the flightline when the plane landed at the base on Wednesday.

The base could get as many as 35 C-130Js in the next few years. They cost about $55 million each.

The planes take off and land on shorter runways and can accomplish their missions more quickly than the older C-130s that are assigned to LRAFB.

The 314th Airlift Wing at the base has an additional seven C-130Js to train all U.S. military crews flying or maintaining that plane, as well as crews from allies around the world.

The air base flies many of the C-130Js to Afghanistan and Iraq, where the planes have saved numerous lives since the need to use ground transportation is greatly reduced.

“This is my first C-130J delivery, and I have been looking forward to this great opportunity,” said Lichte, who is based at AMC headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., before he took off from Marietta, Ga., where the aircraft is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. “And we [the Air Force] couldn’t have done it without you [Lockheed Martin] and the great leadership of this organization along with the hard work of each individual on the floor who builds these aircraft each and every day.”

When landing, Lichte said, “It’s appropriate that you have so many of the civilian community leaders here today because it is a team. Everyone works together to accomplish the mission, none harder than the men and women at Little Rock that spend the time away from home doing the mission that you ask us to do, you the American people.

“So today it’s with great pride and respect that I bring this aircraft home,” the general said.

“As we gather at the home of C-130 combat airlift, it’s only fitting this combat aircraft be delivered to the Rock,” said Otey. “Home to a team of professionals that provide our nation’s Air Force with unrivaled C-130 combat airlift.

“It’s also fitting this J model be delivered to a community that is the finest military community in America; one that truly understands and appreciates our airmen and Team Little Rock’s contributions and service to our nation. A community that never stops supporting the future of our great Air Force and what’s only the very best for our airmen,” said Otey.

“At the Rock, we have built the foundation to train and deploy the world’s finest C-130 combat airlifters and the infrastructure and training programs to provide America unmatched airlift capability well into the future,” Otey said.

The C-130J has been selected by 11 countries with 173 delivered of the 263 ordered to date.

Worldwide, the C-130J fleet has accumulated more than 500,000 flight hours.

The Combat Airlifter contributed to this report.