EL PALOMAR AIRBASE, Argentina --- During his visit to the El Palomar Airbase, President Mauricio Macri, Minister of Defense Julio Martinez, and Air Force Chief of Staff Brigadier General Enrique Amrein observed the modernization effort of the country's C-130 fleet, and toured the first aircraft fully upgraded at an Argentine factory.
The effort to upgrade Argentina's C-130 fleet started in the early 2000s. However, it was continually postponed due to lack of funding. The C-130 upgrade resurfaced once again in late 2010 when the government restated its intention to keep the platforms viable until 2040. The plan includes five aircraft - four Hs and one B. In October 2011, Argentina requested the purchase of five commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) avionics upgrades for the aircraft from the U.S. through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channels.
The modernization package is valued at $166 million. All five of the aircraft will now receive an avionics upgrade that could include the following: a TCAS II TPA-100A traffic surveillance system, a Mk VIII Enhanced Ground Proximity Terrain Avoidance Warning System with internal GPS, an SSU flight data recorder, a solid-state cockpit voice recorder, a TRA-67A Mode S transponder system, a Honeywell 406AF emergency locator transmitter, a Teledyne air data computer, an LTN-100G internal navigation system, an ABH-6 H radar altimeter, and a CALNAV ground mission planning system. The first aircraft was sent to Waco, Texas, in September 2014 to begin the program. It was returned to Argentina with upgrades complete in March 2016.
However, the remaining four aircraft are being upgraded in Argentina. According to the Argentine Ministry of Defense, 150 technicians and engineers at national aircraft factory FAdeA completed the upgrade in 10 months, which is faster than the 18 months it took to upgrade the first aircraft in the United States. The additional time in the U.S. was due to training of Argentine staff so they could conduct the remaining upgrades in Argentina.
The upgrades are expected to extend the lives of the C-130s for the next 20 years. Among other missions, the aircraft are vital for humanitarian missions in Argentina.