L-3 SPAR Wins Life-Extension Contracts for RAF C-130Ks
On Aug 19/08, L-3 Communications announced that its SPAR subsidiary in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada had been awarded a USD $18 million contract from the U.K. Ministry of Defence, under the Royal Air Force’s Hercules Outer Wing Replacement Plan. L-3 SPAR will perform outer wing replacements on 3 C-130K aircraft, using techniques developed to extend the lifespans of Canada’s extremely old CC-130 fleet.
“24-Year, GBP 1.5B contract to Maintain UK’s Hercules Fleet” covered ongoing efforts under one of Britain’s innovative “future contracting for availability” arrangements. This extra effort is outside of the HIOS arrangement, however, as it is required in order to let these RAF C-130Ks meet their planned retirement dates, instead of being withdrawn early. On June 27/08, Britain’s National Audit Office issued a report that pointed up serious issues with Britain’s C-130 fleet, thanks to additional hours being flown in support of front-line needs. Note that American C-130s are facing similar issues, for similar reasons:
“Increased stress on the aircraft has been caused by landing on unpaved airstrips in Iraq and Afghanistan, additional use of air drops, as well as a change from transporting people and equipment over long distances to making short flights in theatre. More ‘wear and tear’ has resulted, and increased maintenance costs. Fatigue, which decreases the life span of the wings, is accumulating more rapidly than in the past. The Department has had to retire four aircraft during 2006 and plans to retire a further five C-130Ks during this year, ahead of their planned retirement date of 2010. The Department will also need to address shortened wing life on the newer C-130J…”