February 14, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Last week ST Aerospace redelivered its first C-130 modernization for an export customer. Turnaround time on the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) C-130H was only seven months, including a full depot overhaul.
An RAFO C-130H is parked on the flightline and starting up its engines for another sortie. [RAFO photo]
ST Aero, who was the prime contractor for this upgrade program, previously modernized eight C-130s in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) fleet.
"The Oman modernization was a highly compressed program," noted Loh Piang Khuen, director of the military business unit for ST Aero, during a briefing at the Singapore Airshow. Loh said the short turnaround time was made possible by the company’s long experience in C-130 overhauls; teamwork with supplier companies; and the presence of RAFO project engineers in Singapore during the work. Another two aircraft are scheduled for the upgrade.
The core of the modernization on both the RSAF and RAFO C-130s is the Rockwell Collins Flight2™ avionics system. This avionics suite will provide RAFO pilots with greater situational awareness and communications capabilities as it gives them unrestricted access to global airspace by meeting Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM
) airspace requirements that are currently identified. Included in the avionics upgrade are new primary flight displays, state-of-the-art flight management system, autopilot, communication radios, navigation sensors and surveillance systems including MultiScan™ Hazard Detection Weather Radar, Traffic Alert Collision Avoidance System, Terrain Awareness and Warning System and digital map.
This multi-option digital system has also been sold in this region to Thailand, where 12 C-130Hs were modernized. The other partners with ST Aero on the RAFO aircraft are ADP, EuroAvionics, GE, L3 and Test and Training Flight Services.
There are six multifunction displays, and the cockpit lighting has been modified to permit pilots to wear night-vision goggles. The crew also have the advantage of a flight management system that automates such tasks as the calculation of airdrop release points, which was previously done manually. A cockpit working group was created to ensure that pilots’ opinions were considered; in the RAFO case, this resulted in a deviation from previous Flight2 installations, to house the HF radio controls above the main displays.
The project also included major servicing of the aircraft, repair and overhaul (R&O
) of aircraft components as well as the Rolls-Royce / Allison T56 / 501 engines and its accessories.
The Royal Air Force of Oman is operating three C-130Hs which were delivered between 1981 and 1983. Last year they took delivery of its first of three new-generation C-130J-30 aircraft from Lockheed Martin.