May 20, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Nigerian Air Force will soon take delivery of a refurbished C-130H-30 Hercules transport aircraft after a two and a half year rebuild by specialist company Marshall Aerospace in the United Kingdom.
Nigerian Air Force C-130H-30 #NAF918 is seen here on finals to runaway 23 at Cambridge Airport after being escorted in by two RAF Typhoons on QRA due to a lack of functioning radio equipment; this incredibly rare Hercules has ventured all the way to the UK for major overhaul with Marshalls Aerospace on August 27, 2011. [Photo by Sam Pilcher]
made its second flight from Cambridge Airport in the UK on May 1, 20 months after the aircraft arrived on Aug. 28, 2011, from Lagos, Nigeria, where it had been dumped, out of use, for a period of 7-10 years. The anticipated budget for the overhaul works, which were originally expected to last only four months, was exceeded many times, during which time it eventually became almost a complete rebuild,
The Hercules underwent ground runs in early April and performed a first Air Test on April 16. The flight on April 15 was cancelled due to an oil leak from one engine, and electrical snags that had manifested.
Under a U.S. financed restoration program, the Nigerian C-130 was flown to the UK for major overhaul with Marshall Aerospace. Due to massive corrosion of the front windscreen frames however, the aircraft was unable to pressurize, It was flown low level at 12,000 feet from Lagos to England, by pilots wearing helmets and oxygen masks. After its radio failed, pilot changed his transponder code, alerting French authorities to the problem. French Mirage 2000s were dispatched to escort the C-130 across the English Channel. Once across, two RAF Typhoons of the 11 Sqn QRA
escorted the transport from Coningsby to Cambridge Airport.
Upon landing, police were waiting for the crew, who were interviewed by immigration officials before being cleared for entry. The aircraft itself was immediately impounded and grounded, fumigated and inspected for snakes, beetles and other non indigenous creatures.
During the 1970s, Nigeria bought six C-130H aircraft from the United States and another three a decade later. One of them, C-130 #911
, crashed on September 26, 1992, killing at least 158 people on board were killed, including 8 foreign nationals.
The Nigerian Air Force aims to refurbish five of its eight surviving C-130Hs. The Nigerian C-130 fleet is more than three decades old and by 2009 only one example was still flying while the others were sitting in obvious disrepair idly at Ikeja Air Base with less than 5,000 flying hours.
After more than a year of major repairs and maintenance, the U.S. Air Force helped return the first of five Nigerian C-130s to operational service on January 21, 2011. The aircraft went through an extensive process called Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM
) in a Lockheed Martin depot in Lisbon, Portugal.
In September 2013 the Nigerian Air Force received another refurbished C-130. This time it was refurbished with the assistance of French aviation company Sabena Technics.
In-country depot maintenance is done by the Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited (AETSL), a subsidiary of the Nigerian Air Force Holdings Company.