By Priam F. Nepomuceno, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said on Saturday that the C-130 Lockheed “Hercules” cargo aircraft which arrived last Oct. 17 is “good as new,” thanks to its intensive “periodic depot maintenance” at the BAE facility in Mojave, California.
“During that time, it had all its engines overhauled, airframe inspected for corrosion, time change items replaced and body repainted,” Okol said of the aircraft.
He also clarified that no repairs nor modifications were done as the aircraft was still in serviceable condition when it arrived in California.
“After all of these things are done, a functional check flight was conducted and the aircraft was released for its return flight to the PAF,” Okol pointed out.
The aircraft, sporting tail number 4704, was sent to California for overhaul last Aug. 8.
With the arrival and commissioning of the above-mentioned aircraft, the PAF C-130 inventory now climbs to two.
Okol said the country has spent around P190 million for the plane’s upkeep.
The C-130 will be placed under the control and supervision of the 220th Airlift Wing which is headed by Brig. Gen. Salvador B. Mison Jr.
The unit operates and maintains all the PAF’s airlift assets.
The C-130 and its flight crew consisting of Lt. Col. Ramil G. Oloroso (test pilot), Maj. Michael Edrik M. Encarnacion (pilot-in-command), Capt. Dexter B. Danes (co-pilot), and Capt. Merrito J. Quijano (co-pilot) left from the U.S. last Oct. 14.
The crew made stopovers at Hawaii, Wake Island and Guam prior to its arrival in the Philippines on Oct. 17.
“The PAF has been responsive and was able to airlift supplies and equipment to our countrymen with a single C-130 during disasters and calamities. Now, with another one, we will double that capability,” PAF chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino G. Dela Cruz said.
The C-130 is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin.
Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft.
The versatile aircraft has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol and aerial firefighting.
It is now the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 60 nations.
The C-130 entered service with the U.S. in the 1950s, followed by Australia and others.
During its years of service, the Hercules family has participated in countless military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations.
The family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft – after the English Electric Canberra, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95, and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker – to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case, the United States Air Force.
The C-130 is also the only military aircraft to remain in continuous production for 50 years with its original customer, as the updated C-130J Super Hercules.