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Jan 18, 2005

Comments

Joe Hashagen MSGT RET

As a member of the USAF C130J operational test and evalation team OT&E My position was suitability test director, basically reliability maintainability and availability. (can it be repaired in a timely manner and generated for a mission. Beginning in 1999 and ending in 2002 the test was unfinished due to software maturity issues affecting reliability and operablity. Three years hence I am now retired and working for Lear siegler services as a maintainer on the WC130J and C130J-30 long ship. The software has improved substantially and the reliability is on par or better than the (E) or (H3) , This aircraft is truly a super hercules...I flew from Anchorage AK to Biloxi MS non stop carrying a maximum payload and landed with 7K of fuel remaining, and slick wings (no external tanks)

POGO

"Umm....the only thing wrong with the J model is BOEING isn't building it."

Umm, Andy, can you read the blog entry where we link to sites that discuss the problems with the J.

"Your claims about the C-130 being unsafe are basically, untruths,"

Again, see the links we have included for your convienence. You can also try Google or look at the GAO's site. At no point have you provided any evidence to back your claim that there are no problems with the C-130J.

"it was the AF who pushed for the Jmodel"

Actually Andy it was Lockheed that proposed the C-130J program and the Air Force originally rejected the proposal. See http://www.gao.gov/archive/1998/ns98108.pdf.

Here's the relevant information from that report:

On December 16, 1996, an unsolicited proposal was submitted to the Air Force to modernize the C-130 fleet. The proposal anticipated a 21-month schedule to fabricate prototypes at a firm fixed-price of $50 million, with projected potential fleet-wide savings of $6 billion.

The C-130 Program Office review of the unsolicited proposal concluded that, although the proposal was technically feasible, it was impractical due to cost, schedule, and technical risks. The actual evaluation is labeled FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, precluding a detailed explanation of those risks in this report. However, generic examples of the risks included:

• aggressive concurrency in program schedule;
• reliance on reverse engineering in lieu of original manufacturer equipment data because of proprietary rights of original manufacturer;
• use of unproven technology;
• inadequate support equipment, manuals, training, and spares for the prototype, and for the test and evaluation effort;
• inadequate software development and integration for an undefined avionics suite, including lack of crew-member workload analysis;
• an additional $15 million for the test and evaluation effort would be required over the firm fixed-price proposal of $50 million; and
• insufficient substantiation of the $6-billion claimed savings.

In recommending nonapproval of the unsolicited proposal, the C-130 Program Office also cited the lack of program requirement, funding, and direction for the proposed C-130 program as additional reasons for rejection. Finally, the Program Office concluded that the proposal was not unique and innovative as prescribed in the Federal Acquisition Regulation for unsolicited proposals. Hence, even if the proposal was acceptable, it would not qualify for an exception to full and open competition.

Andy Totter

Umm....the only thing wrong with the J model is BOEING isn't building it. Recently, the AF seems to have nade the decision that LM should bail from the transport business and go into fighters only, and Boeing should build the transports.
Also, the cancellation of the C-130 would let LM move all manufacturing to Dallas-Ft Worth, and to quiet the Europeans, the AF would prolly end up buying A-400's. Your claims about the C-130 being unsafe are basically, untruths, Rumsfeld, AF prop-haters, and the AF itself are to be blamed for the cancellation of the C-130, as it was the AF who pushed for the Jmodel, then decided they didn't really want it as all the money for airlift should go to the C-17, now, if ya wanna get on the case of a plane that's a failure, there it is.

Kurt Plummer

I think that the following needs to be emphasiszed:

1. Of the 'downs' resulting in problematic performance, 184 remain open, 667 have been resolved.

2. The USAF has been working with a 'Common Missile Warning System' specification for a joint MAWS since the early 90's. By rights, this suite should be capable of indepedently talking to the EXCM blocks on it's own in defeating the A#1 threat to all aircraft which is (and always has been, as a proportional element of kills) optical guided weapons fire. The 'winning' design (AAR-57 IIRR) has /yet/ to be installed as a regular equipment item on ANY tactical fighter aircraft. Including those operating at dangerously low levels. In fact, the ANG recently bid for a European system 'PIDS+' which incorporates one of two alternate AAR-58 and 60 MAWS into an uprated pylon for the F-16 and uses the ALQ-213 TERMA suite to 'talk to' the rest of the airframe.
Such bolt on modifications should not be ignored. Nor should other solutions like the Comet Pod on the A-10. It is basically how most of the AC-130 and MC-130 improvements were handled throughout the early years. Most of them manually cued by observers whose presence on the mission is a six-of-one type consideration in terms of weight or payload compromise. I do know that I have photos of C-130J's with bugeyes on the cheek plates under the cockpit which, to me, indicates at least an active RWR.

3. NO C-130 is intended to and _should not_ operate under conditions of active threat, especially optical, anywhere along it's approach corridor into base. Ask the Russians what it's like trying to 'escort' AN-22 and IL-76 jets into and out of Kabul with Mi-24 flare ships and active dispensing by the Cock/Candid themselves. Imaging weapons simply ignore the flares and kill the C-plane anyway, leaving a humble sort of vengeance to the helos trying to 'suppress the attackers'. What this means is a need for Air Force security teams to be active in denying enemy proximal occupation through ground surveillance by acoustic and RF as well as patrol based methods. Just like they were in Vietnam.

4. I am concerned about the prop issues. But I would like to know why I can watch video of 1 TON of hail being shot at the monster GE-90 engines on the 777 (along with frozen chickens and assorted other items). And that jet's 11ft fan blades do not delaminate. Is it a case of fitting titanium leading edges to the props? Adusting thickness and twist along the airfoil? What exactly is the COST of a new prop blade, can we simply (in the short term) accept the need to stock large numbers of blades at prepositioned sites to support a rapid replacement system via 'plug and play' hub adaptors or does each blade have to be harmonically tuned? As I recall, cruise altitude and airspeed for the aircraft is 25,000ft and 325 knots over a range of as much as 3,000nm. Can this capability, in combination with USAF weather information, be used to route /around/ storm cells? And of course, as others have said, what are the foreign operator reports?

5. WHY is the airframe not yet rated to airdrop? WHAT PERCENTAGE of the daily mission utilization in places like Iraq and AfG is currently relative to this capability being rapidly activated? Is it something to do with the automated payload management system? Can the loadmasters rig a workaround that avoids the avionic or mechanical shortcomings? If it's something like a need to transition to the Brit Snowdrop or equivalent system then SAY SO! If it's something to do with turbulence on the jet or problems with the structure taking the airloads or mechanical flexing. SAY SO!

6. What are our alternative choices? I know that the A-400/FLA is out there but it appears stalled after making the wrong decision to go with props instead of jets. Is there a Russian option in the AN-74? Or how about the BAe-146?
If there is no other option for tactical airlift, what is the highest-time rated C-130E/H problem for 'near term' replacement need? Wing spar cracking still? Skin pops? Assuming we get out of Iraq by 2006 and reduce ops tempo again, what is that in Fiscal 'Dog Years'? If we don't get out and the utilization rate stays high?
If we ARE looking at to replace the total C-130E/H capability before their wings fall off, how many airframes is that and what are our options in terms of truly civil airframe alternatives? Could the 737 or 767 fill at least the palletized cargo options if not the outsize and airdrop mission sets?

CONCLUSION-
POGO tries hard and I'm sure they /mean/ well, but they get heavily into the acrimony game if only by the politicized nature of the news reports they use to back up their arguments. It would be _so much_ more helpful if we could see figures on 'how much to fix the problem, not the blame'. I think U.S. citizens are about fed up with continual promises leading to failure, leading to risk-averse cancellation. We would MUCH rather see a balanced set of "Yeah what else is new?" reports on how long it would take to bring X-new capability into service at FULL usefulness. Than simply assume that nothing in the Spiral/Block upgrades is going to be sufficient to finally gain 'LRIP to FULL' production offset of whatever 2.6-4-7 billion dollar continuing expenditure cap has been set.

And "So we'd better chuck it all because they are all corrupt..." is simply getting to be too commonly used a device to cover for personal agendas, witch hunting and a general fear of admission of our (growing) technical incompetence.


KP

You can't take the track record for other countries. Are they flying the exact models the US is flying? They need to go back to the H3 version. Just leave the 6 blade prop and the new engines, but put a H3 flight deck in it. That would solve all problem. The biggest problem is they tried to eleminate the FE! Just look at the C-17. It only has a "4" man crew. But when you really look it's more like 6 to 8. They have 4 pilot at least when they fly! Why? Who knows. But the point in not putting a FE on it was to save money. But They are spending more money by have more then 2 pilots on it. Just go to lockheed and ask them to come out with and C-130H4. That would be the best.

POGO

In posting blog entries, we attempt to be as accurate as possible, and make no attempt to distort or omit relevant facts. But the Department of Defense does have a huge, well-paid public affairs office that attempts to spin the facts in the DoD’s favor. We feel compelled to tell the rest, or other side of the story. Our obligation is not to the Pentagon or defense contractors, but to our fighting men and women and the taxpayers.

In the case of the C-130J, it is a fact that all 50 aircraft were delivered to the Air Force and Marines with deficiencies, and they have yet to all be resolved. It should not be that way, and we make no apologies for pointing out the problems with the aircraft. Yes, developmental aircraft do have wrinkles that are sometimes ultimately ironed out. The fact that the aircraft is flying well for the Australian Air Force, if the news release you cite is accurate, doesn’t much help the pilot of a U.S. C-130J when one of the propeller blades cracks in flight. Declaring an aircraft operational for combat before it is fully tested can have serious implications. We feel confident that the public will hear the sunny side of the C-130J story from the DoD. We want to make sure there are no hidden dark clouds.

See the following link for our Australian ally's assessment of C-130J (and C-130H) based on their actual combat mission usages (as opposed to mere tests or evaluations).

http://www.defence.gov.au/news/raafnews/editions/4521/topstories/story08.htm

They're probably wondering what is REALLY going on within the US DoD.

In any politically charged environment, it is very easy to emphasize some facts and hide others to support whatever position you have, and that is what the DoD seems to be doing with C-130J under the pressure to make the budgetary cuts. C-130s have had a long history of facing cancellations by DoD but surviving due to congressional opposition. Thus, the older C-130s that the Air Force currently has, that are now being praised by almost everyone (including humanitarian groups that respond to natural disasters), have faced criticisms and objections that are similar to those now being leveled against C-130J. History has taught us that whatever problems or deficiencies the early C-130s had were all solvable and that the aircraft has many crucial benefits and can save many valuable lives. All this makes you wonder whether there are various individuals within DoD who have their own self-serving personal reasons for cancelling C-130J and who are twisting the facts to advance their own agendas.

This is like de ja vu all over again, harking back to the 1980's when there were many people who complained that the defense contractors were ripping off the Amercian public by selling (supposedly) shoddy products. Well, we all know what happened. The results of the First Gulf War that were far beyond the expectations of almost everyone made many of us think whether all of those critics had other deceptive, political motives.

If POGO wants to be truly fair and objective on their website, then their web articles should have links, like the one above for Australia, to all sides of the view, not just the ones that support their positions.

The Italian Air Force has been flying the C-130J for years, and have employed the airplane worldwide, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The airplane has performed brilliantly, much better than the older versions.

The RAF, the Australians and the Danes have also flown the C-130J to much satisfaction.

So why is there such a different opinion in the US? The Pentagon should see the track record of our allies that use the C-130J in combat.

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