The USAF has leased a Lockheed C-130H Hercules from the Georgia Air National Guard to the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA; Argentine Air Force), marking the beginning of an 11-month collaboration that will see the tactical transport play a crucial role in logistical support and supply operations across Argentina and Antarctica.
The aircraft (serial TC-60 ‘Pioneros de la Aviación Militar’) – which was previously assigned to the 165th Airlift Wing (AW) – departed Savannah Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in Garden City, Georgia, on June 5, before spending the night at an undisclosed location in Ecuador and arriving at El Palomar Air Base in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on June 6. The aircraft was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute upon its arrival in Argentina and was formally welcomed in a ceremony at El Palomar that was chaired by Argentine Defence Minister Jorge Taiana and attended by the US Ambassador to Argentina, Marc Stanley.
A combined aircrew from the Georgia ANG’s 165th AW and the FAA delivered the newly leased C-130H to Argentina, with the USAF crew remaining at El Palomar for ten days to train up to five additional crews on the type. According to the Georgia ANG, the leasing of this C-130H to the FAA highlights the “200-year-long partnership between the United States and Argentina and helps solidify the enduring State Partnership Program [SPP] between the Georgia National Guard and Argentina, which began in 2016.”
For the next 11 months, this C-130H will be operated by the FAA’s I Air Transport Squadron in support of a variety of taskings, including tactical navigation; search-and-rescue; troop/cargo drop and community support, as well as performing supply operations for Argentine bases and contributing to logistical support in Antarctica. The aircraft joins five other operational C-130s at El Palomar and is the youngest Hercules in the FAA fleet by 21 years. The deal also includes an option for Argentina to procure the C-130H after the lease expires.
Commenting on this, USAF Col Scott Humphrey – Chief of International Affairs at the National Guard Bureau – said: “This will provide a pathway for our international partner to divest from aircraft and advance their initiatives and objectives… Through Total Force Integration through SPP, we are able to help partners improve and assist in developing common operating principles which enhance the ability of aligned military forces to operate effectively together.”