March 17, 2017 (by SSgt. Jeremy McGuffin) - A decade ago, the 463rd Airlift Group received its first combat-ready C-130J Super Hercules linking Air Mobility Command to a proud 51-year legacy of flying the Air Force’s cargo workhorse.
SrA Nicholas Armitage, 19th AMXS crew chief, checks the top of the C-130J aircraft during pre-flight inspections March 15, 2017 at Little Rock AFB. This C-130J was the first one delivered to AMC here at Little Rock a decade ago and is still providing combat airlift for Little Rock, AMC and the U.S. Air Force. [USAF photo by SSgt. Jeremy McGuffin]
Sweeping changes have come to the base since then as the 19th Airlift Wing absorbed the 463rd AG and assumed command in 2008 from the 314th Airlift Wing, changing the base from an Air Education and Training Command asset to an AMC one.
(Ret.) U.S. Air Force Gen. Duncan McNabb, then AMC commander, delivered AMC’s first J model to Col. John Gomez, then 463rd AG commander.
"The quantum leap of capability provided by the J model allows us to go higher, faster and further with more cargo as we respond to crises around the world," Gomez said.
In the initial stages of transition from legacy H-model C-130s, technicians struggled with the differences of the J model and its capabilities.
“As an aircraft electrical and environmental systems Airman, it was difficult to transition since I had 12 years of experience on the older models,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. James Vehlies, 19th Maintenance Group chief inspector. “After some on-the-job training, talking with our Lockheed Martin service reps and applying what I knew about the older models, the aircraft and job became easier, and I was asked to represent AMC in helping transition Yokota Air Force Base to the C-130Js.”
The enhanced reliability of the aircraft decreased the workload required of many maintenance specialties.
“Over the years, the platform has proven itself to be extremely capable and reliable in both in-garrison and deployed operations,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremy Doggett, 19th Maintenance Squadron accessory flight chief. “The C-130J is much easier to maintain than legacy C-130s because of its diagnostics system which decreases repair times and makes the aircraft available to be flown more often.”
As the C-130J mission prepares mobility forces for tomorrow, Little Rock Air Force Base personnel are poised to use the strong legacy of air power to prepare for future missions.
"No one has a stronger track record of expanding the envelope or increasing our theater airlift capability to support the warfighter than the men and women of Little Rock Air Force Base," Gomez said.