December 4, 2017 (by SSgt. Charles Dickens) - A C-130H Hercules aircraft arrived on the flightline of Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, on November 29, 2017, with no intention of leaving. The plane is being absorbed into the 16th Special Operations Squadron’s repertoire to more easily manage pilot training proficiencies, in addition to other positives.
C-130H #82-0056 newly received by 16 SOS sits on the flightline of Cannon AFB, on November 29, 2017. This aircraft will allow higher pilot proficiency at a lower maintenance cost than the current AC-130W Stinger IIs being used. [USAF photo by SSgt. Charles Dickens]
"The purpose of gaining the C-130H is to facilitate aircrew training and free up our combat coded aircraft to perform their primary missions," said Maj. Carrie Kerner, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations officer.
Cannon AFB has been managing missions and training using AC-130W Stinger IIs, which provide a similar experience, but with unnecessary complexity.
"This is our first and only C-130H at Cannon," Kerner said. "We refer to this as a ‘slick’ C-130 because it doesn’t have the additional capabilities and equipment that our AC-130Ws have been modified for, like the 105mm cannon and 30mm gun. The AC-130W is essentially a heavily modified C-130H, in high demand and short supply."
While the AC-130W is an incredible gunship, using it to maintain training is not the best use of this aircraft, hosting millions of dollars in upgrades over the C-130H. These upgrades increase maximum combat capabilities, though are not necessary for maintaining pilot proficiencies.
"From a maintenance perspective, the C-130H is simpler and cheaper to maintain," Kerner said. "Plus, when the C-130H is down for maintenance repairs, there is no impact to our alert commitment or deployment rotations."
Overall, the addition of a C-130H Hercules to Cannon AFB will provide the base and the 16th SOS with a welcome increase in proficiency capabilities while also increasing mission strength and readiness.
"Nothing spurs creativity and ingenuity more than seeing an idea go from the bottom up and gain traction so quickly," said Lt. Col. Adam Moore, 16th SOS Commander. "With this aircraft, we will be able to provide critical pilot proficiency to allow our mission AC-130W aircraft to focus on tactical training, and ensure we have the squadron ready to execute the nation's most difficult missions at all times."