Argentina modernizes its fleet of Hercules C-130 aircraft
By Dialogo February 28, 2014
Argentina's Defense Ministry recently announced plans to modernize its Air Force fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft. The Air Force has five C-130 planes.
Modernizing the fleet of aircraft and making sure they are well-maintained is a high priority, said Defense Minister Agustín Rossi.
The Air Force first obtained C-130 aircraft in 1969. In April 1970, the Air Force used some of the aircraft to provide supplies to the Marambio Antarctic Base, which is the country’s primary military base in the region. The base was founded on Oct. 29, 1969. It is named after famed Air Force Vice Commodore Gustavo Argentino Marambio, who was one of the first pilots to fly over the Antarctic region.
Over the years the Air Force has continued to use the C-130 aircraft to supply the base. The aircraft is known for performing well in frigid conditions. Temperatures at the base are often below zero.
The modernization will be a cooperative effort between Argentina and the United States. An Argentinian C-130 aircraft will be taken to the United States to be modernized, officials at the Defense Ministry said. Once that plane is modernized, it will be brought back to Argentina. The modernized aircraft will serve as a model, and the rest of the fleet will be modernized in Argentina.
The modernization will cost an estimated $166 million (USD), according to published reports. Once the aircraft are modernized, they should last until at least 2040. The Air Force has used the aircraft primarily to transport supplies. Once the modernization is complete, the Air Force will be able to use the aircraft to conduct search and rescue missions with sophisticated infrared radar; transport paratroopers; and conduct missions at sea.
The C-130 aircraft was developed in the 1950s by the Lockheed Corporation, a U.S. company. The company is now the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Plans for refurbished aircraft
Air Force officials plan to use the modernized aircraft for different types of missions, sid Richard Gadea, an Argentinian military analyst.
“Argentina's plans for the refurbished Hercules include supplying deliveries to areas affected by natural disaster, evacuating victims, and fighting forest fires,” Gadea said.
The modernized C-130s will be useful in responding to natural disasters in Argentina and in other countries. The Argentinian military has a long tradition of providing humanitarian aid to other countries which are struck by natural disasters, Gadea said. For example, the Argentinian military provided humanitarian assistance to Haiti after that country was struck by a devastating earthquake in January 2010.
That 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed between 100,000 and 160,000 people and destroyed or severely damaged 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings, authorities said. The C-130 aircraft is useful for providing humanitarian aid because it performs well over long distances and requires relatively little maintenance.
“This is a legendary plane that has made history in Latin America and the world over,” Gadea said. “It is a technological marvel and it has endured through the years in very demanding conditions and all climates.”
The Air Force is an important part of Argentina’s military. It consists of more than 14,000 military members and more than 6,000 civilian employees.
Russian helicopters failed to reach Marambio Antarctic Base
In 2011 Defense Minister Rossi and an official entourage which included some members of Congress and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Brigadier General Mayor Mario Callejo presented to a group of journalists one of two MI 17 Russian helicopters the country had purchased. The Air Force planned to fly one of the helicopters from Rio Gallegos to the Marambio Antarctic Base. The other helicopter was at a military base in Buenos Aires.
But neither of the helicopters were able to fly to the Marambio Antarctic Base because of mechanical problems, according to published reports.
Joint Argentinian-Brazilian aircraft development program
February 2011, the defense ministers of Argentina and Brazil signed a joint cooperation agreement following a meeting in Buenos Aires.
The two countries agreed to collaborate on the production of 1,500 KC-390 military transport planes designed by Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace company. The aircraft are being built in the Argentinian province of Cordoba.
The aircraft are scheduled to be available to enter the market in 2018, authorities said. That is about the time that about 1,500 C-130 Hercules aircraft which are used by countries in Latin America and in other regions throughout the world will be at the end of their operational lifetime.
“It’s important that Argentina participate in building the KC-390, because Brazil’s strategic policy in Latin America is one of collaboration,” said Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim.
The KC-390s will be sold to the militaries of countries throughout Latin America and throughout the world.