Choking on the Hercules Kool Aid



United Press International had a little story yesterday on the C-130J Hercules, an aircraft that has been arguably pushed down the Air Forces throat over the years by powerful lawmakers with jobs and votes on the line.

The UPI story took the Lockheed/Air Force nugget hook line and sinker

The delivery of the 150th U.S. C-130J cargo plane this week was used to illustrate the aircraft's achievements during "high-tempo" operations in Iraq.

Lockheed Martin turned over the plane to a California Air National Guard unit that flew more than 5,400 sorties during a recent deployment to Iraq.

Lockheed said in a statement Wednesday that the record compiled by the 146th Airlift Wing's four C-130Js was made possible by the new plane's advanced capabilities

During its 20 months in Iraq, the Oxnard-based 146th flew 5,444 sorties, totaling 10,750 hours, that delivered more than 70,000 passengers and 12,681 tons of cargo, Lockheed said. The C-130J is being used on a daily basis for supply and troop transport missions.

Our intrepid contributor, Winslow Wheeler with whom many of our readers will be familiar from his long history as a congressional watchdog put the story in perspective for us all.

Wheeler rejoins:

Impressive? I think not if you do the math.

These data mean each C-130J flew, on average, 2.3 sorties per day. Very mediocre, even for a modern complexified version, such as the C-130J.

Each sortie was, on average, 2 hours long. Sounds like these were hops from Kuwait.

Tonnage for each sortie was a whopping 2.3 tons, on average, plus 13 passengers. Im amazed they let this data out pretending it was impressive. Actually, its grounds for a fleet retirement.

Its a good thing they werent competing with C-47s (DC-3s) as per the Berlin airlift; they would have been deeply embarrassed.

These data support a unique assertion: Wolfowitz was right about something. In December 2005, he tried to kill the C-130J program. As in most things, his effort was a feckless failure.

Remember: the C-130J increased aircraft unit price from the C-130H from about $20 million per copy to about $60 million. More money apparently means less capability.

And reading the last line of the UPI story, it seems they only somewhat get Wheelers point.

The C-130J program was nearly killed by the Bush administration two years ago due to concerns about the finished products, but the Pentagon relented after what has been characterized as an intensive lobbying effort by members of Congress.

-- Christian

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