WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force selected four National Guard Airlift Wings as the preferred locations to receive C-130J Super Hercules to replace their aging C-130Hs, pending environmental assessments.
Eight C-130J aircraft will be used to recapitalize the C-130H fleet at each location: the 103rd Airlift Wing (Hartford, Connecticut), 120th Airlift Wing (Great Falls, Montana), 133rd Airlift Wing (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and 182nd Airlift Wing (Peoria, Illinois).
This important series upgrade means that pilots and loadmasters will have new flight qualification requirements, since this is considered switching to a different aircraft. Any excess in manpower due to this shift will be repurposed through the Air National Guard corporate process and will vary by location.
The Air National Guard will examine each individual unit receiving the upgraded airframe to assess when they can begin to receive the new platform.
The Air Force will conduct an environmental impact analysis at each location, expected to be completed in fiscal year 2025 before a final decision.
“C-130 aircraft are critical assets that our Minnesota Air National Guard use to transport cargo and passengers, whether it is in support of missions abroad or offering support here at home during times of floods, hurricanes, and other emergencies,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
The C-130J includes the latest avionics, a longer expected life span, better fuel efficiency and performance, increased cargo capacity, and better logistical support.
The 133rd Airlift Wing currently operates eight C-130H3 model aircraft that are more than 25 years old.
“This is a monumental step forward for Minnesota and the Minnesota National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard’s adjutant general. “This important announcement will modernize the 133rd Airlift Wing, ensuring our Air Guard service members remain at the forefront of the future fight.”
The Connecticut National Guard said its Airmen, noncommissioned officers and officers worked diligently to prepare for the fleet upgrade at Bradley Air National Guard Base.
“As one of the oldest Air National Guard units in the country, the Flying Yankees have a tradition of excellence dating back to World War I and the advent of aviation,” the Connecticut National Guard announced. “The unit, having just celebrated their centennial anniversary, is now well postured to be relevant to Connecticut’s economy and the United States’ national defense well into the future.”
The Illinois National Guard also applauded the decision on social media.
“On behalf of wing commander Col. (Rusty) Ballard, we are thrilled to announce that the 182nd Airlift Wing has been selected as a preferred location to receive the C-130J Hercules aircraft mission.“
The Minnesota, Illinois and Connecticut National Guard contributed to this story.