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AMP-modified C-130 performs first flight

The first C-130 Avionics Modernization Program aircraft lifts off the runway at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, on its maiden flight Sept. 19, 2006.  (Photo by Rich Rau)

The first C-130 Avionics Modernization Program aircraft lifts off the runway at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, on its maiden flight Sept. 19, 2006. (Photo by Rich Rau)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The first Avionics Modernization Program-modified C-130 lifted off the runway at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 19, after spending more than 18 months undergoing extensive modifications.

The aircraft was crewed by a mix of members from Team Edwards and Boeing, and was accompanied by an Edwards C-12 Huron as a safety observer chase aircraft.

The AMP modification replaces 1960's vintage dials and gauges with a fully modernized glass cockpit consisting of six flat panel displays, two heads up displays, two multifunction control displays, and new communications and navigation panels. The AMP modification also improves system safety and makes the C-130 compliant with stringent air traffic control communications and navigation requirements, allowing the aircraft to fly preferred air routes.

The flight lasted just over three hours and successfully completed 49 of 55 attempted test points. The objective for the first mission was to perform air data evaluations and a functional check of aircraft systems. The air data system was thoroughly checked out to ensure that the aircrew was receiving correct airspeed information. This was verified both on board the aircraft through use of a wing tip boom as well as by the chase aircrew comparing airspeeds with the test aircraft. In addition, communication radios, navigation systems and heads up displays were evaluated for proper operation. The chase crew monitored the aircraft's performance throughout the flight and reported no anomalies observed. When this aircraft finishes initial testing in San Antonio, it will be brought to Edwards for further developmental testing.

"The C-130 AMP offers a rapid and economical means to modernize the fleet," said Lt. Col. Chris Dobb, 418th Flight Test Squadron commander. "When all of the C-130s are modified, roughly 430 aircraft will have been updated into standardized configurations across the entire fleet. These aircraft will then return to service and once again become an integral part of the Air Mobility Force, reassuming their role in helping to accomplish the Rapid Global Mobility mission."

An integrated test force consisting of team members from the Air Force Flight Test Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and Boeing will provide their unique areas of expertise to flight test ten C-130 AMP variants over the next six years.