The first to cut through an unusual afternoon fog was the sound that seemed like a swarm of millions of insects angrily buzzing in unison. Then, the nose of a C-130 popped through that dense whiteness followed by 32 spinning blades creating the ominous sound.
The Air Force’s first fully upgraded C-130H arrived here Jan. 11 to begin testing.
The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing-owned aircraft will be here for several months undergoing multiple test flights. The goal of these evaluations is to collect data and confirm the increased fuel efficiency, reliability and overall performance improvements gained from the new propellers and upgraded engines.
The benefits of the upgrades include shorter take-off roll, improved climb, quieter operations, and lower operating and support costs, according to Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the program office for the test.
"With these modifications, we'll see significant improvements that are needed to ensure longevity and mission flexibility," said Maj. Leanna Thomas, 153rd AW C-130H pilot.
The flight testing will be conducted by 153rd AW and C-130 Combined Test Force aircrews. ANG Airmen will maintain the aircraft during its time here.
The Wyoming Air National Guard was chosen specifically to receive the C-130H because of its involvement in the initial testing with the new systems in 2008, when the Air Force explored the idea of upgrading the H-model.
"When we add these modifications to all of our aircraft, we will greatly increase the reliability and performance of the C-130H," said Col. Justin Walrath, 153rd AW commander.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Although no details are provided about the upgrade, the new propellers are similar to those used by the C-130J Super Hercules, so if the same power pack is retrofitted the upgraded “H” version is likely to have similar performance, which would in turn mean fewer orders for new-build “J” versions.)