February 16, 2017 (by Tim Kurtz) - As promised by the Air Force Special Operations Command vice commander, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex C-130 sustainment workers were treated to a February 9 tour inside an AC-130W gunship fully loaded with the latest modifications.
USAF AC-130W #88-1301 gunship parks on the Base Operations red carpet area at Robins AFB on February 9, 2017. Maj. Gen. Eugene Haase, AFSOC vice commander, flew in on the aircraft during a special visit during which he thanked the C-130 System Program Office workforce at Robins for their vital support. [USAF photo by Tommie Horton]
Maj. Gen. Eugene Haase, AFSOC vice commander, and his crew brought the AC-130W from Hurlburt Field, Fla., to the Robins flight line to keep a vow he made during a similar visit in 2016.
“I promised if you guys continued your magic that we would come back with one of our ‘Whiskeys’,” Haase said. “I would tell you that you have, and it’s just been a huge success story up here for us. I mean, you’ve set new standards.”
Standing on the base operations red carpet leading to the gunship, Haase thanked an assemblage of about 150 C-130 workers for the highly-successful AFSOC acceleration project performed at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.
“You probably didn’t realize this, but you set history this fall,” Haase said. “For the first time in the history of AFSOC, we only had two airplanes (here). That was the minimum – the least number of airplanes that we’ve ever had at Robins going through the depot line. So you should be very, very proud of yourselves and what you’re doing – what you’re doing for us; what you’re doing for the country.
“These airplanes are over in the AOR, over in the CENTCOM AOR, taking it to the bad guys every night,” he said. “So know that your work is allowing us to provide combat power down range day in and day out.”
AFSOC identified a need for improved gunship availability in June 2015. Subsequently, six AFSOC aircraft – three AC-130U gunships and three MC-130H Combat Talon aircraft – arrived at Robins in fiscal 2016 as part of a hard-hitting “acceleration” plan.
Partnered with AFSOC, the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron -- with support from throughout the WR-ALC production machine – exceeded all expectations.
An AC-130U target was set for a 30 percent acceleration from 180 to 120 flow days. The Robins team delivered three-of-three at an average of 118 flow days.
The MC-130H target was set for 27 percent acceleration from 200 to 145 flow days. WR-ALC delivered all three at an average of 135 flow days.
Fiscal 2017 requirements have been expanded to include two AC-130W, increasing the Robins total to eight aircraft in the acceleration plan. All of the fiscal 2017 deliveries remain on or ahead of schedule.
Prior to the workers tour of the gunship, the general detailed the firepower of the newest AC-130 configuration. He said the aircraft was equipped with 30mm and 105mm guns. The gunship also featured missile launch capability and wing stanchions for small-diameter bombs.
The crew of the Spectre 67 remained on board the plane to answer any questions the workers may have had as they toured the inside of the weapon system.
“We’re proud to be up here today to let you walk through there,” Haase said.
The general pledged to stay until “every person on this base that wants to come out and see this airplane” had a chance to do so.
On behalf of the 19,000 men and women of AFSOC, Haase presented a commemorative 105mm shell to Doug Keene, special assistant to the WR-ALC commander. Haase read from the shell inscription saying the gift was a thanks to the complex “for helping AFSOC deliver violence to the enemy anytime, anyplace.”
“It always makes us really proud when AFSOC comes to visit us,” Keene said. “It makes us feel like part of the team.”
Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, AFSOC commander, toured the 560th AMXS to see the accelerated PDM
work on March 22, 2016.
During the visit, Heithold said: "This is not by accident that we have come here to show our appreciation to all of you. We don’t have a lot of these airplanes – every one of them matters.”
Haase, a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours including 114 combat hours, visited Robins a year ago, bringing an AC-130U “Spooky” gunship as a static display for Robins maintenance crews to tour.
“Really appreciate what you do day in and day out for us,” the general said to the team in parting. “Thanks. Proud of y’all. Happy to be here to do this.”
Headquartered at Hurlburt Field, AFSOC is the Air Force component of U.S. Special Operations Command. It provides Air Force special operations forces for worldwide deployment and assignment to unified combatant commanders.