Oct 19, 2013
RAF Retire its C-130Ks
In an unrelated move, the British have opted to skip the Block 7 update for its J models and incorporate the modifications in their aircraft along with the new Block 8.1 improvements program being led by the US Air Force as part of an international program.
The decision to take the seven remaining Ks out of service brings to a close a 45-year operational association of the variant with the Royal Air Force. The decision leaves Britain’s tactical airlift dependent on 25 of the more modern J models ahead of the introduction of the Airbus A400M next year.
The move has been prompted in part by the heavy cost of keeping the aircraft airworthy. One MoD source said keeping them flying would not have made economic sense, and with the K effectively at the end of its service life, it made more sense to invest in further J capabilities.
It’s the second aging air asset the British have stood down recently. Late last month, the Air Force finally took its VC10 air transport/air tanker fleet out of operation after 47 years of service.
The British C-130K fleet has been gradually run down over the past few years. The aircraft has had its out-of-service date extended several times, mainly as a result of serious delays to the A400M program and to a lesser degree the failure to complete the Block 7 upgrade to the J fleet on time.
Deliveries to lead customer France have commenced on the Airbus aircraft, which in payload sits between the Hercules and the Boeing C-17, which the Royal Air Force also operates.
Increasing numbers of Airbus A330 tanker/transports now coming into service, a handful of old Lockheed Tristars and some leased BAE 146 jets make up the remainder of the British airlift fleet.