First RAF C-130J Begins Centre Wing Box Replacement Programme

RAF C-130J-30 Hercules C4 ZH867 at Heathrow Airport on January 19, 2012. This aircraft was delivered to Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at Cambridge on March 1, 2019, to become the first of 14 to go through the Centre Wing Replacement Programme. Wikimedia/Simon Boddy

MARSHALL AEROSPACE and Defence Group (MADG) has taken delivery of the first Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules C4 to begin the Centre Wing Replacement Programme (CWRP) contract.  The aircraft, ZH867, was flown from its base at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to the MADG facilities at Cambridge Airport, using callsign ‘RRR134’, on March 1.  The programme will upgrade the aircraft to extend its lifespan and keep the type in RAF service until 2035.

MADG announced that it had been awarded the C-130J CWRP contract by the UK Ministry of Defence on July 17, 2017.  Through this contract, MADG will install Enhanced Service Life centre wing box kits on 14 of the RAF’s stretched C-130J-30 Hercules C4 fleet.  The units provide durability enhancements and allow sustained centre wing service life that is two-to-three times longer than original centre wing boxes, according to MADG.  The kits are manufactured in the US by Lockheed Martin, the C-130J’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM), but Marshall will install the kits on the aircraft at its facility in Cambridge.

Marshall has supported the Royal Air Force’s C-130 fleet for over five decades and are delivering an innovative C-130 sustainment programme — Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) — which has been in place for more than ten years.  HIOS partners Marshall with Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce (C-130 engine original equipment manufacturer) to deliver comprehensive support to the RAF and the MoD.  MADG states that, through HIOS, the availability of the aircraft has increased whilst delivering better value for the customer and has reinforced its position as the Royal Air Force’s workhorse of the tactical aircraft transport fleet supporting military, civilian and humanitarian missions around the world.

During the last five decades, Marshall has worked on more than 90 C-130s for the Royal Air Force, performing both standard and deep maintenance, as well as special mission modifications.  Marshall was the first authorised Lockheed Martin C-130 Service Centre in the world, and it is the only European heavy service centre authorised to service C-130J variants.  MADG notes that it is through its reputation for supporting the Royal Air Force that has led to the company supporting 12 other air forces around the world.