February 7, 2017 (by SrA Harry Brexel) - Airmen conducted a training flight using the first C-130J with a Block 8.1 upgrade at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, February 3, 2017.
U.S. Airmen from the 61st AS and 41st AS prepare for their first flight in a C-130J with Block 8.1 enhancement upgrades on February 3, 2017, at Little Rock AFB. The upgrades were installed by Lockheed Martin and improve communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management and more. [USAF photo by SrA Harry Brexel]
The Block 8.1 upgrade enhances GPS capabilities, communications systems, updated friend-or-foe identification and allows the C-130J to comply with worldwide air traffic management regulations. Additionally, the upgrade program will standardize aviation systems to improve interoperability.
“This update will truly allow us to have unhindered global access,” said Capt. Kyle Gauthier, 61st Airlift Squadron C-130J instructor pilot and flight commander. “It will also provide pilots improved situational awareness, and a greater ability to communicate with command and control around the world.”
Over the next two years Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing and 314th Airlift Wing will team together to test the only two Block 8.1 upgraded C-130J’s in the world over.
“We have put thousands of maintenance hours into this plane since it arrived,” said Master Sgt. Brian Johnson, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. “We’re excited to see it finally up in the air.”
Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing and 314th Airlift Wing will team together on the only two Block 8.1 upgraded C-130J’s in the world over the next two years at Little Rock AFB. Loadmaster, pilots and maintainers will work with Lockheed Martin to report any bugs or potential issues.
Gauthier said, “Flying with such a new system can be difficult, but it is exciting to know you’re shaping the future of C-130J operations worldwide.”