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Redistributing C-130J fleet across AMC


Air Mobility Command is extending the life of the C-130J as they change how they manage the fleet, ensuring more flexibility to respond to operational needs.


The Air Force's current fleet management approach assigns platforms to particular wings and keep them with those units through the life of the platform. This approach gives wings ownership of aircraft, but according to Brig. Gen. Steven Bleymaier, AMC's director of logistics, it can also lead to an imbalance in fleet health based on how those wings use and maintain the airframes they own.


"Different wings have different missions, so you have the same weapons system at different wings, but at one wing, the aircraft are aging a lot faster in terms of flying hours or the profiles that they're flying," Bleymaier said in an Oct. 28 interview at the Airlift Tanker Association conference. "What we've learned is that when you do the analysis, perhaps that's not the best way for the long-term health of the fleet."


The new approach, called Total Force Enterprise Sustainment and Modernization, aims to swap aircraft among units, as needed, to balance the way the airframes are being used and increase longevity of the fleet. The C-130J is a part of this new approach and the 19th AW welcomes the change as it ensures the operational readiness of the physical aircraft, remains consistent.


Maj. William Westendorf, 19th Aircraft Maintenance squadron operations officer, said that moving to an enterprise management approach for the C-130J allows staggering of the heavy maintenance cycle, greatly affecting the aircraft life expectancy. This management allows the 19th Airlift Wing to better manage the flying hour program with a significant near-term cost avoidance, he noted.


"We received a completely new aircraft from the assembly line last year and in exchange we sent one of our aircraft to Yokota AFB in Japan,” Westendorf said. “This enabled us to spread the mission requirements across the fleet which reduced wear and tear on our aircraft.”


The C-130J has a number of variants, and with AMC taking care of so many airframes, it is important to get the C-130J platform moved as quickly as possible to ensure consistent readiness across the fleet.


“When the Air Force added the C-130J to its fleet, they were given to Little Rock Air Force Base and other AMC bases in succession from Lockheed Martin,” Westendorf said. “Receiving the new aircraft one after another from Lockheed Martin caused each base’s fleet of J-models to be due for depot maintenance at approximately the same time.”


This impacted flying operations significantly because when the aircraft go through depot maintenance it can take months to return back to operations. When the aircraft are swapped with other AMC bases though, it staggers the depot maintenance cycle so that each base does not have too many of its aircraft at depot all at once.


“The availability of aircraft greatly affects our ability to carry out combat operations as well as support global humanitarian efforts. We take pride in our abilities to carry out any mission or tasking when called upon providing agile combat airlift across the globe,” Westendorf said.


Bleymaier noted that for some fleets, achieving a level of homogeneity among variants that allows the service to swap wings may be cost-prohibitive. The transition to the new construct, which will take some time to implement, could drive more homogeneity on legacy fleets, improving consistent readiness.


"The swapping of aircraft within AMC promotes the overall health of the USAF’s C-130J fleet, which in turn enhances the USAF’s global combat readiness and humanitarian support, and we’re extremely proud to be a part of that process,” Westendorf said.