Recapitalization; C-130 on track, P-3 uncertain

The Chief of the Navy Reserve said the recapitalization of its ailing C-130T and KC-130T Hercules transport fleet in on track for recapitalization by 2023, but recapitalization of its reserve patrol squadrons is uncertain.

Testifying on April 17, 2018, before the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee, Vice Admiral Luke McCollum said the command’s fleet of C-130T and KC-130T airlift aircraft was on track for replacement by new KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft beginning in FY2023 with a three-aircraft procurement.

McCollum told the subcommittee: “Your continued support of this programme will ensure the Navy Reserve’s ability to fill our fleet’s essential airlift requirement”.

Most of the Navy Reserve’s 24 C-130T and KC-130T aircraft have been grounded for months because of problems with their propellers. He noted that the Congress’s FY2018 action has accelerated the funding for the NP2000 propeller for the C-130T and KC-130T fleet that will restore the fleet to flight status.

McCollum also said the Navy is in discussion about the fate of the Navy Air Reserve’s two patrol squadrons equipped with P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which will be retired from the active fleet by 2020 in favour of the new P-8A Poseidon.

Captain Tony Rossi, the Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft program manager, said recently the Navy is in discussions about the Reserve squadrons, but currently there are no plans to recapitalize the reserve P-3Cs with P-8A Poseidons.

McCollum said: “The Navy continues to review requirements for P-8 aircraft as they fully transition from P-3s. Included in this review is how the Navy Reserve will continue to support this mission with its aging P-3 fleet. Without recapitalization, the squadrons based at Whidbey Island, Washington and Jacksonville, Florida, will be decommissioned in 2023’. Rick Burgess