The first C-130J Hercules to undergo a major upgrade to extend the life of the fleet has been delivered to Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge.
ZH867 was flown from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire by Officer Commanding No. 47 Squadron Wing Commander Andy Johnson on 1st March. It marks the start of the centerwing upgrade programme, which will see all 14 aircraft in the fleet receive the upgrade over several years at Marshalls.
Matt Siggins, Aircraft Project Manager for Marshalls told us:
“It’s a 212 day programme per aircraft to replace the center wing so it’s a big job. It’s been fantastic to meet the crews who fly the Hercules from RAF Brize Norton and for them to get a chance to see what we do on this end.”
The Hercules fleet first came into service with the RAF back in 1967 as the C.Mk 1, later known as the ‘K’ model, and has been the backbone of UK operations ever since.
Marshall have been an instrumental cog in the Hercules machine right from the off, having performed all fleet conversion work throughout the aircraft’s history and today supporting the C-130J in this latest upgrade programme.
Wing Commander Andy Johnson told Forces Radio BFBS:
“It is the aircraft that’s always called on for a great number of tasks by defence and constantly delivers.
These aircraft have lasted 20 years and giving them this new lease of life is superb.”
The C-130K models were retired from service in 2013 after almost 5 decades of service, accumulating many more flying hours than predicted during Operations Telic and Herrick alongside the newer C-130J models.
The C-130J was due for retirement in 2022, however the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review saw a need for the life of the fleet to be extended and this programme will ensure Hercules continue to deliver on operations for the UK up until 2030.
Images: Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group