7/1/2008 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA -- The 418th
Flight Test Squadron together with the Boeing Company
are currently conducting communication, navigation,
radar and air data testing on two C-130 Hercules
aircraft here as part of the Avionics Modernization
The AMP upgrade includes replacement of the
aircraft's 1960s era instruments and indicators with a
modernized glass cockpit consisting of flat panel
displays, heads up displays and upgraded communication
and navigation systems.
"As far as technology goes, the legacy aircraft's
cockpit is lagging behind modern technology," said
Capt. Grant Mizell, 418th Flight Test Squadron C-130
pilot. "The AMP modification is the first
comprehensive project that allows the C-130 to take
all these modernization benefits."
Since the modification to the cockpits are quite
significant to the aircraft, the radar and air data
testing will test the basic fundamental skills of the
gauges, such as checking for proper readings of
altitudes and locations, said Kristen Pearson, 412th
Test Support Squadron AMP program manager.
"The C-130 is also testing the (heads up display),"
Ms. Pearson said. "The HUD has so many benefits like
improving a pilot's situational awareness and
improving information accuracy. All the things that
were once mechanically driven are now running through
a computer. When something goes out of limits, the
computer can tell you all about it."
Edwards is currently transforming two C-130s -- a
1989 and a 1991 model. One of the primary reasons for
the C-130 cockpit modernization is to cope with air
traffic management standards set by Europe, as it will
begin using Global Air Traffic Management in two
"As skies get more crowded, we find the need to fit
more aircraft into smaller spaces," Captain Mizell
said. "Old '70s era instruments like the ones in the
legacy C-130 are not as accurate as the more modern
equipment, therefore a larger safety bubble is
required around the airplane. You might think that
it's a big sky out there, but we are being challenged
to fit more iron into crowded airspace."
The modification inside the aircraft will now allow
more accurate readings of locations and enable the
aircraft to navigate through tighter spaces. The final
testing for the aircraft will be the integrated
systems evaluations to see if the aircraft can
complete any given mission when tasked.
"We are doing integrated testing evaluations to see
if the aircraft is capable of accomplishing tasks
required by combat crews," Captain Mizell said. "If we
were told to go to Iraq or Afghanistan and asked to
put 60 troops on target, could the C-130 AMP aircraft
get the job done? This test will also show if all the
right tools have been brought together in the best
manner, for the ever expanding mission of the C-130."
Developmental testing of the C-130 AMP is scheduled
to end in September 2009 and the first C-130 AMP
aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the Arkansas
National Guard in 2010 to be used as the primary
training site for pilots.
"With a few more changes, this aircraft is going to
be a fine piece of equipment," Captain Mizell said.
"The modernization will make this plane a better
aircraft for future military operations."
Source: USAF Edwards AFB Press Release by Senior
Airman Stacy Sanchez