Thursday, February 23, 2012

Japan to purchase six ex-USMC KC-130Rs

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress Feb. 16 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of six KC-130R Hercules tanker/transports, along with regeneration, overhaul, modifications and support of the airframes and engines.

According to the DSCA release, the sale of the aircraft "will help to modernize the Japanese Defense Force’s ageing cargo aircraft fleet", which to me, sounds a little strange, given the KC-130Rs were all ex-USAF C-130Hs built between 1974 and 1977, and transferred to the Marines with the new KC-130R designation. The aircraft were probably flogged hard by the Marines before being retired to the Boneyard between 2006 and 2008.

By comparison, Japan's fleet of 16 C-130Hs were delivered between 1984 and 1998, which would make the oldest a full decade younger than the oldest KC-130R, and seven years younger than the newest one. And given the ops tempo of the USAF/USMC, particularly since 2001, these KC-130Rs would have probably logged more flight hours than the Japanese C-130 fleet. If anything getting the KC-130Rs increases the average age of Japan's fleet. Which then begs the question regarding this deal: Why?

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