Boeing, 418th FLTS C-130 avionics mod program underway
By Larry Harjes, 418th Flight Test Squadron
/ Published December 13, 2006
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Since 2004, members of the 418th Flight Test Squadron's C-130 Avionics Modernization Program test team here have been actively working toward the first flight of the first modified airframe scheduled for late August.
Selected aircrew members of the Edwards test team are currently attending two weeks of aircrew qualification training for the C-130 AMP aircraft at the Boeing facility in Long Beach, Calif.
"This training milestone will prepare and qualify the initial cadre of Air Force and contractor aircrew members to test the hardware and software upgrades and will include both classroom academics and hands on simulator training," said Mike Sizoo, Boeing test pilot.
The Boeing AMP modification calls for the removal of 1960's era steam gauges and indicators and replaces them 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.
In addition, the AMP modification makes the C-130 compliant with stringent air traffic control communications and navigation requirements, allowing the aircraft to fly preferred air routes.
"The C-130 AMP offers a rapid and economical means to modernize the fleet," said Maj. Adam Faulkner, 418th FLTS C-130 flight commander. "When all of the C-130s are modified, roughly 430 C-130 aircraft will have been updated into standardized configurations across the entire C-130 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.
Combined aircrews from the Air Force Flight Test Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and Boeing are conducting the testing.
"The combined efforts of everyone involved has allowed for concurrent accomplishment of both developmental and operational test objectives," said Dave Fedors, Boeing's lead test pilot in the C-130 AMP. "The test team could not accomplish all of the planned test points without everyone's expertise and cooperation. From the maintenance personnel to the engineering experts to the combined aircrew, everyone is working toward one common goal, providing a good product to the warfighter."
C-130 AMP testing will start soon at the Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas and will continue at Edwards.
The main purpose of this testing will be to verify the functionality of the new avionics hardware and software.
One MC-130E Combat Talon is currently here executing Terrain Following risk reduction testing down to 250 feet above the ground utilizing the C-130 AMP TF system. This testing has involved several flights over rugged terrain to determine how well the TF system can function during a low altitude, special operations flight in order to avoid enemy defenses and detection.
"A major milestone achieved in this test effort is that the aircraft has been able to successfully follow and hug the earth in both active and passive modes of operation," said Bill Spencer, Boeing system engineer.
In the active mode of operation, the C-130 AMP radar transmits and receives low power signals to identify and avoid terrain. In the passive mode, the mission computers use a software terrain database to identify and avoid terrain.
"These efforts are indicative of the talented people we have working together as a team in order to support the user," said Lt. Col. Chris Dobb, 418th FLTS commander.
The 418th FLTS plans to test several different versions of the C-130 AMP aircraft over the next several years.