The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks

November 1/23: GUSTO On October 28, NASA’s C-130 Hercules successfully touched down at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, completing a crucial leg of its journey to deliver the Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO). This observatory is part of NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program and will be launched on a scientific balloon mission in December 2023. The mission’s journey began on October 17 when the C-130 made its first stop at Fort Cavazos, Texas, to load the GUSTO observatory and its instrument team. Along the way, the aircraft made additional stops for servicing and crew rest, including Travis Air Force Base, California; Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; Pago Pago, American Samoa; and Christchurch, New Zealand, before reaching its final destination, McMurdo, Antarctica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RAAF C-130J-30, flares (click to view full) The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs? C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS […]

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