The C-130 is one of the most capable and rugged aircraft ever built. During my two "vacations" in the Republic of Viet Nam, I watched Air Force jocks land this huge four-engined cargo carrier onto rough, dusty, short dirt strips that I would have been hesitant to land a Cessna 172 on. Some of these strips were so short that the pilots were putting the props into reverse while the main gear was still 10 - 15 feet off the ground. The thought that this airplane would be scrapped, or it's continued upgrade be discontinued is proof that the military should never be run by accountants. ============================================= http://ff.org/centers/cnsd/opeds/11020050248_wallop.html Message to Pentagon Bean Counters: Keep your hands off the C-130 By Sen. Malcolm Wallop Everyday since the tragedy of the Tsunami in South Asia, we have been bombarded with pictures that can only be described as horrifying and nearly incomprehensible. The complete and utter devastation that wiped out entire cities, towns and villages and the resulting deaths of tens of thousands of men, women and children quickly rises to the level of a world catastrophe. After watching the events unfold for several days, the first glimmer of hope came during newscasts, which showed relief supplies arriving by airship in the large unaffected cities of Indonesia and even at remote airstrips in villages near the coast of the Indian Ocean. Helicopters ferried medical personnel and the transport planes were stacked with food and desperately needed supplies to start addressing the hunger and suffering of the thousands of survivors of this great tragedy. While the uniforms of the military men and women reflect the large presence of an international response, a common denominator has been those great, venerable transport planes, the multi purpose C-130. Ever since the days of the Vietnam War, the plane has been used for military purposes such as tactical and strategic airlift, airdrops and even as a gunship. However, this versatile work horse has also been used to put out raging forest fires in the West, search and rescue at sea, hurricane detection and monitoring during the terrible tragedies in Florida this past summer and – as evidenced in South Asia – transport of food and supplies in areas of crisis. Following a segment on the news the other night which showed the tremendous impact the C-130 was having in the area devastated by the Tsunami, it was ironic that the next news story was about the Pentagon deciding to end the life of the C-130 aircraft. As a part of their effort to enact budget cuts at the Pentagon, the green eyeshades decided to ignore the strong support of military generals and Congressional leaders and recommend that modernization for the next generation C-130 be scrapped. One can only assume that the sand where these accountants stick their heads at the Pentagon prevents them from hearing the news about the critical role the C-130 is playing in South Asia. It also prevents them from doing the hard work of identifying real waste of taxpayer dollars. Instead they prefer the much easier and messier Lizzie Borden approach by just hacking indiscriminately without thought or foresight. The leadership of the Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard want and need the modernized C-130. Reserve units around the country rely on the C-130 and have been promised the updated version in order to fulfill their reserve missions. States need the C-130J to help with fire fighting and pilot training. Humanitarian groups rely on the C-130 to bring necessary supplies to remote, short runways that cannot accommodate larger planes. When you get right down to it, in 2003 the Pentagon promised our pilots who ferry our troops into and out of battle zones in Iraq and Afghanistan safe, modernized C-130s. They promised them to the Governors, the Reservists, to the manufacturers, the suppliers and the men and women who build them. They didn’t promise them to the survivors of the greatest tragedy of our times, but these tortured souls have benefited from their service. No military program should go on forever, but no bean counter should be allowed to ignore the noble and necessary service of this aircraft. To eliminate a proven and reliable workhorse whose value has been demonstrated time again without so much as a hint of a replacement is not budget cutting, but is accounting gimmickry. It seems that the Pentagon has decided that this aircraft is better suited as broken promise and a pawn in the chess game of budget negotiations. Instead, this aircraft should be seen as a proven asset in meeting the extraordinarily diverse needs of the modern American military.