Home' Air Force News : February 28th 2013 Contents 4
February 28, 2013
FLYING in the MEAO takes its toll on
Commander Air Lift Group
AIRCDRE Gary Martin said that dur-
ing 28,700 flying hours in the MEAO
over the past 10 years, the C-130s had
been shot at, frozen, blanketed in dust,
and baked by the desert sun.
"Quite often our crews are flying
the Hercules at the edge of its perfor-
mance, whether they're manoeuvring
to evade threats or keeping away from
Afghanistan's high terrain," AIRCDRE
"This all places a considerable
stress on the aircraft, both its airframe
and individual components, which
requires some careful scrutiny and
hard maintenance work."
Since deploying with the C-130Hs
in 2003 to the MEAO, Hercules tech-
nicians have worked constant shifts to
ensure aircraft are available.
Between 2003 and 2009, mainte-
nance was largely conducted on the
concrete tarmacs of coalition bases in
"The technicians have worked in
temperatures ranging from -20 degrees
Celsius to more than 50 degrees
Celsius," AIRCDRE Martin said.
"In late 2009, a climate-controlled
hangar at Al Minhad Air Base in the
United Arab Emirates was opened to
C-130 and AP-3C maintenance, which
provided some degree of comfort."
Maintaining the C-130 momentum
A myriad of tasks have been car-
ried out on the C-130s, from countless
engine and propeller changes to com-
plete scheduled servicings.
One of the prevailing issues has
been dust, according to WOFF Ian
Upton, who served as Warrant Officer
of Engineering with 36SQN in 2003.
"We needed to introduce preventa-
tive maintenance to clean components
earlier than when we might have done
during a scheduled R1 servicing,"
WOFF Upton said.
"We called it a 'Desert Servicing',
and it's actually been introduced to
the extra routine maintenance around
the engines and the air-conditioning
Responsibility for sustaining the
deployed effort from Australia falls
to several organisations -- 37SQN,
84WG, and the Defence Materiel
Organisation's Air Lift Systems
Program Office (ALSPO).
OC ALSPO GPCAPT Andrew
Doyle said short-notice and long-term
programs had helped sustain the fleet
in the MEAO.
"On several occasions, ALSPO
has provided short-notice engineering
analysis where a C-130 has sustained
some damage, and helped them return
to flight," GPCAPT Doyle said.
"In longer programs, we have
worked with the operators and with
industry to improve reliability and
availability for the fleet.
"A great example was a series of
improvements initiated by an ALSPO
'Tiger Team' for the Rolls Royce
AE2100 turboprop, which solved some
persistent problems and improved
mission success for deployed C-130Js
between 2009 and 2011."
The C-130 fleet has also been
shaped by the MEAO deployment
through a series of upgrades.
In 2003, only four C-130Hs car-
ried the necessary self-protection
equipment to face Iraq's complicated
Integrated Air Defence System.
Destruction of the system dur-
ing Operation Falconer allowed the
remaining C-130Hs to be employed
in the MEAO, but the enduring nature
of the deployment soon required the
C-130J to be upgraded.
Self-protection systems were fitted
to the C-130J and tested between 2003
and 2004, allowing them to safely
operate in the MEAO.
With the J-models now car-
rying Air Force's C-130 legacy,
the fleet is currently receiving a
Radar Warning Receiver system.
WO2 Andrew Hetherington
IT'S not just aircrew and ground
crew who keep the C-130s flying
in the MEAO, as LACW Karen
Conway can attest.
As one of two supply opera-
tors working with the C-130
detachment at Al Minhad
Air Base in the United Arab
Emirates, her job is to mainly
support the C-130 technicians
with aircraft parts.
"Once the technicians
request an aircraft part, we then
either go to our stock in our
warehouse or order it in from
Australia if we don't have it," she
"We don't always supply
parts -- we also send repairable
components back to Australia
so they can be reused. We also
source tools and other items
locally for the unit, such as a gas
fitting for our barbecue, which
we used on Australia Day."
What they do is important
because "if the technicians don't
get their parts, then the aircraft
"It feels excellent being here
as part of the detachment on
the 10th anniversary. I feel proud
and so does my family," LACW
"I'm glad I came here."
Supplying the goods in MEAO
HAPPY TO HELP: Supply operator LACW Karen Conway
with an aircraft part in the warehouse at Al Minhad Air Base
in the United Arab Emirates. Photo: WO2 Andrew Hetherington
STILL GOING STRONG: Above,
ground crew look on as a C-130
powers up its engines for the start
of a mission in Iraq in August 2005;
below, C-130 aircrew prepare their
aircraft for take-off as a US C-130
flies overhead in Iraq in April 2003.
Photos: Robert Nyffenegger and Darren Hilder
Installation of a Large Aircraft Infrared
Countermeasure will be carried out
later this decade.
Turn to the centrespread for a special fea-
ture on when the C-130s first deployed to
the MEAO in 2003.
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