Author Topic: Thought Experiment: Re-life options for C-130H in PAF boneyard  (Read 8457 times)

mamiyapis

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Thought Experiment: Re-life options for C-130H in PAF boneyard
« on: January 13, 2018, 10:59:12 PM »
As some of us may or may not be aware, the PAF reportedly has an additional 3 C-130s in the boneyard awaiting spares and funding to be reactivated. These are older H models(along with a single L civilian model) that have steadily fallen out of use with not only the US(except for their Air National Guard) but also other allies around the world for various reasons(UK has A400M, along with a multitude of European users). Spares from used aircraft are now plentiful and there is no better time like the present to rebuild and reactivate these old workhorses to fill in the gaps of the required number of transport aircraft of the AFP. This is a no-brainer.

Or is it?

Among the needs of the AFP, there exists not only the requirement to fill-out our lift needs, but also the following(supposedly to be addressed by the Modernization):

1. Long Range Patrol Aircraft (possibly filled out soon)
2. Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Aircraft (what media calls a "spy plane")
3. Airborne Early Warning & Control (not bidded out yet)

All these require new aircraft packed with specific sensor suites for their respective jobs, necessitating investment in new aircraft types(the actual aircraft depending on winning bid) and a new maintenance stream for the PAF to worry about.

The proposal seeks to check the feasibility of a re-life program for the existing 3 H-model C-130s in the PAF boneyard and their repurposing/modification into aircraft with dual/multiple capabilities, all while preserving the aircraft and leveraging the air force's experience and maintenance stream for the C-130 airframe.

First let's look at the prospects of a refurbishment program for the C-130H by looking at possible sources of spares/parts:

1. USAF AMARG - contains a large number of candidate/donor aircraft to supply straight H-model spares, engines, components and even structural pieces. Possibly the quickest and easiest to access for the PAF given our traditional relationship with not only the US but also their armed forces in general as the US has ceased active force usage of the H-model Hercules.

2. Private contractors - even though the H-model has fallen out of favor with many military forces, this has happened only recently. Meaning there is an active community still present to refurbish out stored aircraft, among of which are Lockheed Martin themselves, L-3 SPAR, BAE Systems, etc. This option would probably cost more as a private contractor means paying out money for the work as opposed to potentially having the PAF's 410th Maintenance Wing, which reportedly has earned the ability to perform Depot Level maintenance work on C-130s.

3. Upgrade to near J standard - This is probably the most ambitious but most high-return option for the C-130s of the PAF. In 2008, the USAF and Lockheed Martin started testing a modified H model with upgrades that would bring the legacy airframes close to the performance of the new Super Hercs(J-models), this included new Rolls Royce T56 Series 3.5 turboprop engines(which are reportedly saving the USAF a huge $250,000 of operating costs annually) which have significantly improved fuel efficiency and power delivery, brand new 8-blade NP2000 props for the engines which also deliver better power and STOL performance and more importantly reduce the maintenance load on the aircraft by reduced noise and vibration. Lastly, the "upgrades" include a Electronic Propeller Control System(EPCS) which has reportedly increased propeller reliability by a whopping 50% and removed a flaw from the old system. These modifications culminate this 2018 as the US ANG has sent a single H model to become the flying testbed for an upgrade program across all 130 C-130H flying for the Air National Guard (1)



Given these options, the PAF could have another 3 C-130s flying once again to help fill the transport gap in either short or long order. But with our thought experiment and the PAF's goal of maximizing returns for any refurbishment, let us assume the AFP and DND goes with the third option, bringing the 3 remaining H models to a near J model configuration that not only increases performance but also eliminates certain issues with spares availability with the new engines and propellers.


LONG RANGE PATROL AIRCRAFT (2)

Despite the name, this really is an MPA with an ASuW capability. Contenders included Elbit, PTDI, Saab, Airbus Defence, to name the most notables. What does this have to do with our notional upgraded Hercules aircraft? Lockheed Martin has been selling a full on MPA version of the C130 called the Sea Hercules.



The Sea Hercules as per Lockheed's own brochure takes the mature and proven systems of the P-3 Orion and adopts them into a C-130J airframe, albeit with significantly more payload, range, and loiter time. Lockheed has claimed slightly better loiter and range compared to even the current USN MPA, the Boeing P-8. The notional SC-130 carries sonobuoys, RoRo operator racks, and ESM antennas scattered across the aircraft. It also carries Harpoon and torpedoes in external weapons stations should the need arise. It actually has one up on the P-8 in that it retains a Magnetic Anomaly Detector which even the USN even tried to include in the original proposal for the Poseidon. The upgrade can reportedly be scaled up or down depending on customer needs, and is even Roll-on-Roll-off in nature.


ISR AIRCRAFT (3)(4)(5)

With the recent upsurge in internal security challenges rising abreast of already pressing territorial defense issues, the AFP requires now more than ever a capable ISR aircraft. The previous proposition for the Sea Hercules would also cover these spectrum of operations, given how the Australians and Americans actually deployed P-3 Orion aircraft for ISR duties as assistance during Marawi.

However, there is also another option available for a prospective ISR Hercules, and these come in the form of Roll-on, Roll-off palletized workstations and sensor pods from various sources. This is something even the Malaysians apparently think we have, and is a persistent rumor circulating in their defense circles.



The above picture shows a Lockheed Martin RoRo kit that installs wing mounted SAR(Synthetic Aperture Radar) pods along with a EO/IR sensor pod with additional space for other sensors. This is the rumored aid package we supposedly got from the US as an ISR system for our Hercules aircraft. It is the most heavy modification available for the Hercules that retains the part of the cargo capacity... But what if we needed the full cargo bay for something along with flying the mission?

Then we have these from Airdyne:



These pods with integrated workstations(reminiscent of multi-screen workstations found on ships' CMS) occupy either left, right or both paratrooper doors on a C-130. The conversion takes less time than the more comprehensive LockMart system(24 hours) and only takes 60 minutes. According to Airdyne themselves, the pods(or the standard bomb rack the pod hangs from) can contain any of the following:

- Synthetic Aperture Radar
- Multi/Hyper Spectral Imaging
- High Resolution Day/Night and Thermal Cameras
- LIDAR
- RADAR (multiple types and bands)
- SIGINT/ELINT
- ELECTRONIC WARFARE
- CBRNE
- PsychWarfare loadouts(FM transmitters, analog and digital television, SMS text, etc)
- And a wide variety of antenna arrays

A big plus is the SABIR is already in service across the U.S. military, including with the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, as well as U.S. Special Operations Command and the Air National Guard. This means one of our biggest allies uses the system almost across it's entire force structure, and has the institutional knowledge to impart to us should we seek it.


AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL

Last but definitely not the least is the AEW&C aircraft, which forms a vital requirement of for the NetCentric requirement of not just the PAF but also the AFP as a whole. For the Hercules, a specific proof-of-concept H-model has existed since 1992, using the systems of the E-2 Hawkeye Carrier-borne AEW, the EC-130V. This particular modification would be one-way for any existing C-130/L-100 of the AFP, especially given the fitment of the rotodome housing the AEW radar(AN/APS-125 or AN/APS-145 on newer models intended for FMS).




Although most likely a significant investment, the system benefits from a mature technology base(Hawkeye systems) also in use by the United States Navy. It gives us an aircraft with significant coverage and even better time-on-station due to the size of the recipient aircraft(11.5 hours TOS for C-130J). This makes the system a very attractive option for nations like us not easily able to spend for the cost of a whole-new AEW system with expensive parent aircraft(usually modified long-haul business jets). Once again, we leverage the maintenance stream of the entire Hercules fleet in PAF service to also reduce operational and maintenance costs.

-------------------------------------------------------

I know I haven't covered all the details and have probably missed out on some systems, but this is what the thought experiment is about, and hopefully we can discuss and put together several ideas.



Sources:

(1) http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/17465/usaf-eyeing-new-props-and-upgraded-engines-to-breathe-extra-life-into-old-c-130hs

(2) https://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/aero/photos/c-130/Variants/M12-1166510A002%20SC-130J%20Sea%20Herc%20Bro%20Media.pdf

(3) http://www.malaysiandefence.com/philippines-get-mpa-isr-kit-maritime-security-initiative/

(4) http://airdyne.org/sabir/

(5) http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/15713/this-is-all-the-stuff-you-can-hang-out-of-a-c-130s-rear-paratrooper-doors
« Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 09:31:52 PM by mamiyapis »

adroth

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Re: Thought Experiment: Re-life options for C-130H in PAF boneyard
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2018, 10:35:24 AM »
The PAF certainly now has the in-house capability to pursue this project. (See below). More later :-)



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mamiyapis

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Re: Thought Experiment: Re-life options for C-130H in PAF boneyard
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2018, 11:27:01 AM »
Partially one of the things I'm banking on to save the PAF precious $$$ in the conversion process. We could do it with contractor assistance from Lockheed Martin, and just direct purchase the engines from Rolls Royce, among other things.

adroth

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Re: Thought Experiment: Re-life options for C-130H in PAF boneyard
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2018, 01:31:29 AM »
Partially one of the things I'm banking on to save the PAF precious $$$ in the conversion process. We could do it with contractor assistance from Lockheed Martin, and just direct purchase the engines from Rolls Royce, among other things.

If we even went ahead with this, the PAF would arguably prefer to use its own personnel, with some consultant oversight, so that we don't lose our maintenance skills.

As for direct engine purpose, it will require Presidential authorization to go straight to a negotiated contract without the mess of public bidding. It is actually doable in current rules.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 01:33:56 AM by adroth »