Wednesday, June 22, 2016

TOP STORY >> C-130J lands in good hands on base

Leader senior staff writer

Nearly a quarter century after Carlton D. Everhart II left Little Rock Air Force Base as a captain, he returned again Monday as general and commander of Air Mobility Com-mand, delivering the 28th and last scheduled C-130J from Lockheed Martin in Atlanta to the 19th Airlift Wing.

The base price for a C-130J, without options, is about $80 million, the general said.

While two more C-130Js are slated for the base’s 314th Air Education and Training Command on the base —that’s known as the C-130 school house — the arrival of tail number 45795 completes the transition of the 19th Air Mobility Wing to “all C-130J all the time.”

“This rounds us out as a C-130J wing,” said Col. Charles Brown, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and of Little Rock Air Force Base.

Many of the other planes stationed at LRAFB are the older-model C-130H aircraft.


Everhart said that after more than a decade, the Air Force will re-launch a program to retrofit those legacy airframes with Avionics Modernization Program kits.

The upgrade will allow them to continue flying after 2020 in domestic and foreign air space from which they would be otherwise barred.

The general said the money and the plans were on order.

Everhart said the number of C-130Hs still commissioned is about 300.

The AMP program was suspended in 2012 after the upgrade of five C-130Hs, which, after testing, have sat unflown on the LRAFB tarmac.

The AMP is “coming right now,” Everhart said, “part of my rapid global mobility initiative.”

He said the Air Force would meet the FAA mandate to update communications, navigation, surveillance and air-traffic management by Jan. 1, 2020.

Phase II would upgrade the cockpit from analog to digital, with heads up displays on transparent screens, making it nearly indistinguishable from the cockpit of the C-130J. It would begin after the completion of Phase I.


The Air Force is currently short about 500 fighter pilots and 4,000 maintainers, and Everhart said it was trying to convince pilots leaving the active duty Air Force to sign on with the Air National Guard and the reserves.

“We are sitting down with industry partners, and spreading word to pilots,” Everhart said.

The decline has been variously blamed on budget restrictions, the economy and the retirement of a wave of Vietnam-era pilots and maintainers who are now retiring from the commercial airline industry and opening more lucrative positions that may lure Air Force personnel.

Everhart called it the perfect storm.

The Air Force has said that it has enough pilots and maintainers for current taskings and responsibility, but that it could be difficult if the Air Force had to fight on a second front.


Everhart thanked the base’s total force partners, which include not only the active duty host 19th Airlift Wing and 314th Air Education and Training Wing, but also the 189th National Guard and the 913th Airlift Group of the Reserves.

“There is no better team than Team Little Rock,” he said.

“Thank you total force partners, you rock,” he said.

Everhart noted that the 19th’s Airlift Wing’s 61st Airlift Squadron was honored last year as the Gen. Joseph E. Smith tactical airlift unit of the year.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher presented the general the key to the city.

Among those in attendance were Fletcher, Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert, Sherwood Mayor Virginia Young, state Sen. Jane English of North Little Rock and state Rep. Joe Farrer of Austin.

Also on hand were representatives of the state’s congressional delegation.