The modernisation of five Argentine Air Force (FAA)-operated Lockheed C-130H Hercules tactical transports has now come to an successful end after the Fábrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA; Argentine Aircraft Factory) recently redelivered the fifth and final example to the operator.
The latest aircraft to undergo the process – serial TC-64 ‘San Carlos Strait’ (c/n 4436) – was accepted by a work team from the Córdoba Logistics Area, along with aircrew and technical personnel from I Brigada Aérea (1 Air Brigade) ‘El Palomar’ on December 22, 2022. This handover marked the end of a contract between the FAdeA and Argentine Ministry of Defence (MOD) regarding the C-130H modernisation and obsolescence removal programme, which involved three FAA C-130Hs and two KC-130Hs in total. According to the FAA, this process aimed to extend the useful life of the legacy Hercules fleet by at least another 20 years and to significantly improve its “performance in a strategic recovery process.”
As part of the process, the aircraft was subjected to a phase depot maintenance inspection; material maintenance or repair activities that require the revision, updating or rebuilding of parts, assemblies and/or subassemblies and the testing/recovery of equipment, when required. The platform also went through an isochronous process, which involves the disassembly and inspection of all the aircraft’s onboard systems, such as its navigation and communications suite and search and rescue; alert and surveillance; night-vision; electronic propeller control and fuel quantity/indication systems. While disassembled, each aircraft underwent a major structural repair, which included changing the platform’s Rainbow Fitting and the replacement of parts damaged by fatigue or corrosion.
In addition, the aircraft also received a number of modernised systems, including a duplicate flight management system; commercial satellite communications (SATCOM); a Controller Pilot Data Link Communication SATCOM and VHF datalink; an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS); a full-colour meteorological radar; an improved Environmental Control System (ECS) and a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). The aircraft were also painted as part of the modernisation process.
At present, the FAA operates three C-130H tactical transports, which entered Argentine military service in December 1971, alongside two KC-130H tanker-transports that joined the air arm’s inventory in April 1979. All five of these aircraft are employed by I Escuadrón (1 Squadron) from El Palomar Air Base in Buenos Aires. As this modernisation process aims to extend the type’s useful service life by a further 20 years, the FAA expects to fly these ageing legacy C-130s until 2040, at least.