CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — The West Virginia Air National Guard received the first several new planes that will change the future of the Airlift Wing.
“In 2005, they announced we were on the list for B.R.A.C. which is Base Realignment and Closure, so they were going to close us, but we managed to survive that. Ever since the H-model aircraft’s future has been uncertain. The Airforce is ready to move on from this aircraft to the more modern J, so we have been competing and positioning ourselves trying to get the J, and finally, in the last year it has come to fruition,” said Colonel Bryan Precce, Wing Commander.
The 130th Airlift Wing is replacing its C-130 H-3 planes with new C-130 J-30 planes, called the “Super Hercules”. Two of the eight planes were test flown and showcased by the Air National Guard.
“Way more modern, more digital. It’s a more capable, more powerful airplane. More fuel efficient and can carry more cargo. If you look closely you’ll notice it’s a little longer and can carry more passengers,” Colonel Precce said.
This means so much to the pilots because they’ve waited years for the new planes. The J-model will keep worldwide missions and the Charleston Airlift Wing.
“It’s a great honor. I joined here 28 years ago and we’ve had C-130’s here ever since, but this is the new, hot C-130 on the block and it’s just a great honor to fly it,” said Colonel Precce.
The newest addition to the C-130 fleet costs about $50 million and includes an advanced two-pilot flight station, navigation unit, and defensive system. Most importantly, it serves as the prime transport for airdropping troops into hostile areas.
“On the overseas part of it, as we are coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq these are the aircrafts that they’re going to use to haul the people and equipment out of theater,” said General Bill Crane, West Virginia Air National Guard.
The process to receive these planes is highly competitive and the Air National Guard has so much pride for finally making it happen.
“How proud I am of our one-guard family and how hard they worked to help the citizens of West Virginia. I mean we’ve been there for everything,” General Crane said.
The test flights were followed by a ceremony of honor and a family day of fun.