C-130 AMP H2 Completes 100th Flight
Ever since Boeing was awarded the AMP contract in 2001, they have been hard at work ensuring that the military’s C-130 fleet meets the required standards. It would certainly seem that they are successful in reaching this goal as the company was able to announce that the H2 aircraft completed its 100th flight on 9 June 2008. This is the halfway milestone in the H2’s flight-test program and it would seem that the aircraft is ahead of its development schedule.
The C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) was designed to reduce the cost of owning the U.S. military’s C-130 aircraft fleet. At the same time the aircraft needs to be updated so that they comply fully with the Air Force Navigation and Safety Master Plan and meet the requirements of Navigation Performance. They also have to comply with Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) requirements. This is a tall order, but Boeing has definitely been up to the task. In order to ensure that all these standards and requirements are met, the aircraft must have their cockpits modernized and upgraded. Replacing old and unreliable equipment will help to ensure that the planes meet the required Navigation and Safety standards as well as GATM requirements. The new equipment will also serve to lower ownership costs since less people will be required to man the cockpit, and aircraft reliability, maintainability and sustainability will be greatly increased. The aircraft will also meet Nigh Vision Imaging System (NVIS) requirements and have improved precision airdrop capability, approach capability and landing capability. Another benefit of the AMP initiative is that the standard cockpit layout that is being used will make it easier for crewmembers to be trained in one type of aircraft.
The redevelopment of the H2 is only a small step in this program but it is an exciting one. There are currently two C-130 AMP aircraft located at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Thus far the aircraft have exceeded both ground and flight testing expectations and Boeing is already making plans to begin Low Rate Initial Production sometime next year. A third aircraft, the H3, is currently undergoing modifications at the Boeing Support Systems facility in San Antonio. Clearly the AMP initiative it proving to be most successful and these changes will no doubt prove to be most beneficial to the military.