A C-130J Hercules takes off with an aircrew from the 815th Airlift Squadron and support members from the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The C-130J has been declared by Air Mobility Command officials to be Initial Operational Capability ready. (U.S. Air Force photo)
10/16/2006 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFPN) -- Air Mobility Command officials declared Initial Operational Capability for the C-130J, the Air Force's premier intratheater airlifter.
The October declaration is the result of an extensive effort by the total force team to meet specific IOC criteria.
Some of the specific requirements for the C-130J to become IOC approved include: -- Successful completion of Qualification Operational Test and Evaluation, -- Equipping the first combat delivery squadron to its full Primary Aircraft Authorized limit with the ability to perform operational airland missions, and -- Manning one squadron of trained aircrews and maintenance members to support the mission.
To test the C-130J, mobility crews employed the aircraft in real field conditions with checklists and maintenance procedures to determine how well it performed in various operational environments. During nearly nine months of Phase II QOT&E that concluded in April, not only did the aircraft perform as it was supposed to, but the crews also performed exceptionally well.
"We put the crews through the worst case scenarios of what they would go through in the plane, including losing engines and their avionics assistance -- basically shutting down all of the systems that enable a two-person cockpit -- and verifying the crew could still fly and navigate the plane," said Maj. Craig Williams, C-130J program manager.
The Maryland Air National Guard's 135th Airlift Group was the first combat delivery squadron to reach full PAA and also fulfilled the IOC manning requirement. Along with other C-130J units, the 135th AG has deployed to U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, performing airland and airdrop missions.
AMC first deployed two C-130Js to Southwest Asia from December 2004 to March 2005 and the aircraft exceeded expectations. During that deployment the mission capable rate was 93.1 percent during 1,381 hours flown. Subsequently, four C-130Js have been continuously deployed to the AOR since June 2005, flying more than 7,844 hours while achieving a mission capable rate of 84.2 percent.
"Crews love flying the plane and maintainers like the relative ease of working on it compared to the legacy models," Major Williams said.
Capable of flying higher, farther and faster than previous C-130 models while carrying more cargo, Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Air Mobility Command commander, said, "The C-130J aircraft, crews and maintainers have performed admirably while deployed in support of the Global War on Terror."