Base to shine on international stage

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
With a successful Oct. 9 delivery of two C-130H aircraft to the Afghan Air Force, maintainers and planners at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, along with program managers and engineers within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center team at Robins, will once again play a vital role in 2014 with a unique and challenging mission.

Two additional C-130H models are scheduled to be delivered to the AAF by the end of December 2014, for a total of four aircraft.

But first those planes will make a stop at Robins to undergo something not routinely performed when it comes to the world-class heavy maintenance and overhaul capabilities this depot is known for.

One aircraft will undergo a standard programmed depot maintenance package, with the addition of corrosion prevention compound and a new paint job. It's the other aircraft that will require a bit more flexibility with its nonstandard workload expected to bring a flurry of activity to meet the 2014 deadline.

Due to a hard landing, this particular C-130H experienced major structural damage to its nose. It will be replaced courtesy of a second donor aircraft currently scheduled to retire.

"We'll be putting dedicated work on this aircraft as we move forward," said Scott Boyd, Tactical Airlift Foreign Military Sales Branch chief at Robins. "While not commonly done here, the location where they will cut the aircraft will be pretty challenging. Every C-130 in the fleet is unique, so marrying the donor nose to the AAF-bound aircraft will be engineering and mechanical art at its best.

"Robins is under a spotlight right now, and we have a chance to shine on this," he added.

Jim Wright, Afghan Support Section chief, agreed. "This will be an opportunity for us to show what we can do in supporting something that is very important politically," he said. "It's difficult to know the impact, as it's such a symbolic thing for the Afghans. This will be something Robins can substantially contribute to."

Once repairs are made on the last C-130H, it will in many ways be better than new, considering the aging fleet of the aircraft which have been flying since its 1974 introduction.

"It will be an excellent product when it's done," said Boyd.

The cargo planes will primarily be used for training purposes and expanding airlift capabilities.

They'll help boost military capabilities with the Afghan National Security Force as they lead their country's security, according to news reports from Afghanistan's International Security Assistance Force.

The first two aircraft, currently in Afghanistan, didn't have many maintenance requirements at Robins, and only included re-stenciling aircraft markings, minor maintenance and inspections, and functional test flights this past August and September.

The upcoming nose repair - an unscheduled depot level maintenance - will also require a corrosion prevention compound application, remarking of Afghan symbols and a minor inspection to ensure its air worthiness.

Extensive planning and engineering analysis will be performed, with the 402nd Aircraft Mainten-ance Group working closely with system program office engineers in the days ahead.

"Maintainers at Robins accomplish structural repair and unscheduled workload every day to keep our older C-130 fleet mission-capable and combat-ready," said Jim Russell, 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director. "We replace major structural components such as the center wing box, and will begin replacing outer wings on C-130 aircraft this fiscal year.

"However, this nose swap will be a huge structural undertaking that will require tremendous teamwork between C-130 maintainers and system program office engineers," he added.

Russell estimated about 30 mechanics could be dedicated to the project; however, that could change once initial inspections and assessments are performed.

"From both an Air Force and an international standpoint, this will showcase the experience and capabilities we possess at Robins with our world-class maintainers, engineering team and support agencies," he said.