KODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard is upgrading its fleet of multipurpose airplanes at an air station in Alaska to a newer model, officials said.
The current fleet of five C-130H airplanes at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak will be replaced with the C-130J Super Hercules model over the next two years, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
Besides moving cargo and personnel, the military transport airplanes are used for search and rescue and law enforcement operations, said Charly Hengen, a Coast Guard public affairs officer.
The C-130J model, built by the Lockheed Martin Corp., has been updated with newer technology. It's also equipped with capabilities allowing it to ascend higher and faster, and take off and land on shorter runways.
The first new aircraft is expected to arrive at the air station this summer. The rest of the fleet will be replaced by 2020.
The air station has begun construction on projects to support the new aircraft, including building a liquid oxygen facility, Hengen said. The airplanes are not pressurized, so liquid oxygen is carried to provide air. The current planes use compressed oxygen gas.
Hengen said the new planes require a support staff of 19, who will be either trained on base or swapped out with current service members
The air station expects to add five personnel to the base as a result of the upgraded aircraft. About 1,000 service members operate on the base.