Congress Attempts to Keep C-130s Flying

Washington Report

(July 22, 2014) A Senate panel has signed on to a request from the adjutants general to modernize the Air National Guard's C-130 aircraft so they adhere to planned changes in regulations from federal and international civil aviation authorities.

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week included in its fiscal 2015 Defense Appropriations bill an amendment encouraging the Air Force to find a way to purchase and install Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast-Out upgrades, a navigational device. The Federal Aviation Administration and international civil aviation organizations will not allow any aircraft without this upgrade to fly beginning in 2020.

The Adjutants General Association of the United States asked in a recent letter that the committee allow the Air Force to fund this upgrade. Without it, the Air Guard C-130 fleet would be grounded.

Also, two lawmakers in the House, Rep. John Carney, D-Del., and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., want to keep the C-130s flying in 2020. A bill they introduced last week, the C-130 Modernization Act (H.R. 5119), would permit the Air Force to abandon the Avionics Modernization Plan for C-130s, which the Air Force deems too costly, and concentrate on the navigational upgrades, which would cost $12 million less per aircraft than AMP. AMP does not include the navigational improvements soon to be necessary.

The bill addresses wider modernization issues, as well, but the key is to take the worry out of the 2020 deadline.

"This legislation provides for an effective, more affordable path to modernize these aircraft and allows the Air National Guard to continue their invaluable service," Lummis said in a statement.

Also, Carney offered an amendment similar to his bill for the House version of the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.