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News | Jan. 21, 2016

C-130 rolling down the strip

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

MARIETTA, Ga. - Defense Contract Management Agency Lockheed Martin Marietta personnel celebrated a recent milestone with the delivery of the 2,500th C-130 Hercules rolling off the assembly line.

Nicknamed “Mr. 2,500,” the HC-130J Combat King II was picked up Dec. 11 by a crew representing the Air Force’s 71st Rescue Squadron, which is a part of the 347th Rescue Group, based at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. This newest variant for the Air Force specializes in tactical profiles and avoiding detection. The six-month assembly process culminated in DCMA flight test and acceptance.

“It feels good to be a part of such an incredible milestone,” said Ray Perez, the sustainment engineering supervisor who oversees the surveillance of the Lockheed Martin C-130J configuration management and software acquisition. “The longevity of this aircraft amazes me. To know it has been in production for over 60 years and continues to adapt to the needs of our warfighter is very impressive.”

DCMA employees work directly with Lockheed Martin personnel to provide contract oversight and ensure contract specifications are met on all C-130Js.

“DCMA is involved in all phases of the C-130 program,” said Jason Rawson, C-130 production engineering supervisor. “From initiation of contracts for new customers and assembly of the first structural members, to customer flight acceptance of aircraft and sustainment support of the fielded fleet, our people are there providing acquisition insight that matters.”

The C-130 program is an essential component of the Department of Defense's portfolio and will remain so for the foreseeable future since a next-generation replacement is still decades from production, added Rawson. “We are committed to ensuring that the aircraft remains the reliable, capable workhorse that it has proven itself to be.”

Rawson, who supervises a team of 10 engineers tasked with C-130J manufacturing and assembly technical requirements compliance, said he has seen a significant rise in aircraft production numbers since program inception.

“The program has evolved from low-production days when as few as 11 aircraft were produced in one year, to a full-throttle environment when 36 aircraft were delivered in a single year,” said Rawson. “That presented enormous challenges to DCMA in trying to ramp up our surveillance capabilities to meet the demand, but I was impressed at how we responded to ensure the product quality remained high on behalf of our customers.”

In addition to overseeing more aircraft produced each year, identifying and maintaining sufficient C-130 parts subcontractors has been difficult.

“One challenge with a program that thrives for as long as the C-130 has is dealing with diminishing manufacturing sources,” said Perez. “Many of the suppliers for C-130 parts just don't last as long as this program and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has to constantly find new parts vendors to continue C-130 manufacturing and sustainment. Every successful delivery is a victory and highlight of its own.”

Shane Jackson, the quality flight line supervisor who oversees 10 quality assurance specialists, said his team is responsible for the final inspection and acceptance of the aircraft.

“The entire flight line team is honored to be part of such a special milestone for the C-130 program,” said Jackson. “It is a member of the DCMA quality flight line who essentially authorizes payment on behalf of the United States government.”

Rolan Wooden, a C-130J program integrator, said paying attention to detail is key when performing his job tasks.

“DCMA is on the job,” said Wooden. “DCMA has been on site at Lockheed Martin Marietta for almost 20 years and providing full-time oversight to the C-130 program for over 15 years. We are looking, finding and reporting on the program accurately.”

Daniel Orton, also a C-130J program integrator, said his job is important because in addition to managing the program, he and his colleagues act as the interface between the customer and the contractor.

“We are the eyes and ears for our customers,” he said. “Everyone on the team wants to ensure we get the best product to the warfighter that we can, while supporting an aggressive production schedule. A highlight for me has been to witness this aircraft evolve to fit the needs of the various services and foreign customers.”

The Air Force received its first C-130 aircraft 59 years ago on Dec. 9, 1956. The C-130 is a versatile aircraft, and can be used in various missions, including special operations, search and rescue, electronic surveillance, aerial refueling and cargo transport. There are currently more than 40 variants of the aircraft.

“The C-130 aircraft is remarkable for its longevity and versatility,” said Rawson. “Even though the new C-130J model is vastly improved in comparison to the legacy models, the basic aspects of the aircraft design are fundamentally unchanged. It is a design that has withstood the test of time and has stayed relevant for decades by being useful in a variety of applications.”

Unlike previous C-130 models, the HC-130J can fly for longer periods of time and has an enhanced cargo system. Pilots are able to take off and land on runways as short as 3,000 feet with a cargo load of as much as 40,000 pounds.

“The C-130 continues to be a workhorse for the services,” said Orton. “I worked on the C-130H while in the military, so I know what a capable aircraft the C-130 can be. It gives me comfort as a civilian to know that our warfighters are equipped with a more capable platform in the C-130J.”