By Rob Koon, NAVAIR Public Affairs
Patuxent River, Md. The first upgraded KC-130T Hercules aerial refueling aircraft has been delivered to the Marine Corps by Lockheed-Martin at their Greenville, S.C. plant.
Lockheed-Martin has proven my faith in the team here at Greenville and the Fleet loves the quality product you give them, said Capt. Mark Stone, program manager for the Support/Commercial Derivative Aircraft Program Office (PMA-207). Youve given a warfighting asset back to the Marines and every flight these upgraded aircraft make will help save lives.
The delivery of this first upgraded aircraft was an example of the outstanding teamwork shown by both Naval Air Systems Command and Lockheed-Martin, said Lt. Col. Thomas Kuhn, the deputy program manager for the C/KC-130 Hercules in the Support /Commercial Derivative Aircraft Program Office (PMA-207). Our teaming allowed us to work through a lot of challenges and we delivered a vital weapons system to our warfighters on schedule and on budget.
When Lockheed Martin began discussions with NAVAIR on this effort over a year ago, we were excited at the prospect of supporting the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps on this critical aircraft mod program, said Walt Sirmans, Lockheed Martin Aircraft & Logistics Centers director of airlift programs. Delivering the first upgraded aircraft is a result of the teams can-do attitude and great working relationship we share with our NAVAIR customer, and is an example of our commitment to providing capabilities and services that our customers value.
The goal of the upgrade program is to have one standard configuration for the KC-130Ts defensive systems and night vision lighting, said Kuhn. Once these upgrades are installed, the KC-130T and the newer KC-130Js will have very similar defensive and night vision systems.
This first KC-130T took about five months to complete the upgrade program, but now that the learning curve is getting shorter, we expect the remaining aircraft to take about three to four months to complete the upgrade process, depending on what equipment the aircraft already have on board when they arrive at the plant, added Kuhn. Once these upgrades are completed, the KC-130Ts can deploy anywhere in the world with added safety for our fellow Marines.
This first upgraded KC-130T Hercules will now go into a few months of flight testing and should return to Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 234 in Fort Worth, Texas in early 2007.
PHOTO: KC-130 refuels an AV-8B Harrier (left) and an F/A-18 Hornet (right). (Photo Credit: Cpl. Paul Leicht, USMC)