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139th Airlift Wing expects C-130H3s to replace current aircraft

A Missouri Air National Guard C-130 cargo aircraft flies near Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Dec. 6, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger)

A Missouri Air National Guard C-130 cargo aircraft flies near Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Dec. 6, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger)

A Missouri Air National Guard C-130 cargo aircraft employs a low-cost, low-altitude airdrop near Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Jan. 26, 2012. The airdrop was part of the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center’s 30th Annual Tactics and Intelligence Symposium. (Missouri Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin Hickok)

A Missouri Air National Guard C-130 cargo aircraft employs a low-cost, low-altitude airdrop near Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Jan. 26, 2012. The airdrop was part of the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center’s 30th Annual Tactics and Intelligence Symposium. (Missouri Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin Hickok)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The 139th Airlift Wing here expects to lose its 10 C-130H2.5 aircraft while receiving eight, newer-model C-130H3s, according to Col. Michael Pankau, Wing commander.

The change is part of the Air Force's overall aircraft reductions for Fiscal Year 2013 and Total Force Re-missioning for Fiscal Year 2014, announced this month.

"Overall, it's really good news for the unit because we will have airplanes that will last longer," said Pankau. "That's a win for us, and we are looking forward to it."

The Air Force's top leaders stated they will eliminate more than 280 aircraft across all components in the next five years, according to their Feb. 1 release entitled "Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets."

Pankau said this is the second time the Wing exchanged C-130 aircraft since the unit received the C-130H2 straight from the factory in 1987; they exchanged those for their current, C-130H2.5s as a result of the 2005 BRAC action. Those aircraft were flown and maintained for many state and federal missions while accumulating thousands of flight hours.

Pankau said he expects the newer C-130H3s will arrive here in 2014 from the Air Force Reserve Command's 934th Airlift Wing in Minnesota. The aircraft will have slightly less flight hours as well as newer electronics systems.

"It's a positive note compared to the greater challenges that may be faced at other Air Guard units," said Pankau.

The structure changes also eliminate the Wing's C‐130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP). The Wing was in the early stages of that extensive cockpit modernization for its aircraft.

Officials said AMP was developed to meet basic communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management requirements. Now, less technically complex approaches will meet those requirements, including a "new start" program to ensure C‐130Hs remain viable and relevant.

"We will still accomplish our mission without the AMP," said Pankau.

Pankau said that Airmen here are resilient, innovative and resourceful enough to withstand the force structure change with a longstanding record as one of the best air mobility units in the Air Force.

"Don't underplay the strength of this organization," he said. "We are 10 percent of the Missouri National Guard, so a win for us is also a win for the entire state."