Team Ramstein preps for J-model

A new age of tactical airlift will begin when the first C-130J Super Hercules aircraft is delivered to Ramstein April 7. The 86th Airlift Wing’s first C-130J took its initial flight Wednesday in the states in preparation for its delivery.

It’s been a year and a half since the J-model was first introduced to the base, and now Team Ramstein Airmen are busily preparing to roll out the red carpet for its newest addition.

“These new aircraft will provide us greater efficiency as we continue providing world-class support for such missions as theater tactical airlift and airdrop, as well as humanitarian relief throughout Europe, Africa and southwest Asia,” said Brig.

Gen. Bill Bender, 86th Airlift Wing commander. “We are thrilled to welcome the C-130J into the family and are very excited to have them as part of the 86th AW fleet.”

This aircraft will be the first for the 37th Airlift Squadron and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. As the only Hercules model still produced, the C-130J is a very different aircraft. The plane comes equipped with Rolls-Royce turboprops, six-bladed composite scimitar-shaped propellers and a head-up display for each pilot.

Additionally, the plane does not require a navigator or flight engineer. It also comes with increased reliability, up to 27 percent lower operating costs.

“This is a great improvement on a good product,” said Maj. Matt Wehner, C-130J chief pilot for the 37th AS. “The new cockpit really enhances situational awareness with bigger screens that have digital maps instead of paper. It’s just like having a GPS in a car, but we can also overlay the maps with a weather function to fly around bad weather.”

The more efficient cockpit has reduced the workload of the aircrew reducing aircrew members to four personnel from six – with no requirement for a navigator or flight engineer.

While maintainers are sad to see the vintage craftsmanship of a terrific airplane go, operators and maintainers alike welcome the new J models. After all, it takes an enormous amount of dedication, energy and effort to ensure the E models are safe and airworthy – especially since most of the aircraft are more than 40 years old.

“The C-130 is a real workhorse; it’s a very well-loved aircraft that has been the backbone of the Air Force’s tactical airlift mission longer than most of us have been alive,” said Senior Master Sgt. Donald Miles, 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “We are transitioning to a new era, and that is exciting for everyone at Ramstein.”

In preparation for the new planes, the 435th Civil Engineer Group has been working on three major projects at Ramstein, including extended ramp space with 10 new parking spots, a $3.5 million C-130J aircraft part storage facility and a $22 million C-130 dual bay maintenance hangar. Procurement plans call for a total of 14 Super Hercules’ to be delivered to the 86th AW by 2010 and the wing’s 16 C-130Es currently in operations are expected to be phased out as the new aircraft arrive.

(Courtesy of Ramstein Public Affairs)