May 11, 2022 (by TSgt. Amy Lovgren) - The 133rd Airlift Wing received their first C-130 Hercules with an updated eight-bladed propeller on May 11, 2022.
USAF C-130H #96-1003 from 109 AS taxis to a parking spot on the flight line in St. Paul, Minn. on May 11, 2022. The 133rd is currently in the second phase of the modernization process, which includes transitioning the C-130s from four-bladed propellers to eight-bladed propellers. [ANG photo by Amy M. Lovgren]
The 133rd Airlift Wing currently flies eight C-130H3 Hercules model aircraft out of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Last year the Wing launched a three-phase modernization process by introducing the electronic propeller control system (EPCS).
The Wing is currently in the second phase of the modernization process, which includes transitioning the C-130s from four-bladed propellers to eight-bladed propellers. The eight-bladed propellers will deliver more power and efficiency while reducing maintenance. Due to increased thrust for takeoff and climb-out, they are also helpful in cold weather and arctic operations. The completion of this phase is projected to end in September 2023.
The third phase will introduce a T56 3.5 turbo engine and will kick off in the fall of 2023.
"Modernization is one of the Minnesota National Guard's organizational priorities. This aircraft upgrade reinforces our ability to protect our state and nation," said U.S. Air Force Col. James Cleet, 133rd Airlift Wing Commander.
"Modernization ensures we have the right forces, infrastructure, training spaces, and systems for our current and future missions," said Cleet. "As our challenges and adversaries change, we require forces, equipment, and training to ensure our national security."
The C-130 is a legendary cargo aircraft known for its tactical abilities; it can operate from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops, equipment, and aid into hostile areas and providing medical evacuations. In Minnesota, the C-130 Hercules is often used to assist with natural disasters and state emergencies. Over the last 51 years, the Wing has flown three different models of the C-130 aircraft. The current model, the C-130H3 Hercules, has been with the 133rd Airlift Wing since 1996. Since the Wing started flying the C-130 in 1971, crews have logged more than 213,000 flying hours. To put that into perspective, that would be 27 years of flying non-stop.
The 133rd Airlift Wing is one of the two flying wings in the Minnesota Air National Guard. They have a proud heritage as the first federally-recognized aviation squadron in the United States. In January 2021, the 133rd Airlift Wing celebrated their 100th anniversary.