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C-130 modernization program could end

Air Force officials have proposed ending the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, a multibillion-dollar project aimed at updating the cockpit of older C-130 aircraft, according to a Bloomberg.com report.

AMP kits were to be installed into the aircraft, in part, at Robins Air Force Base. The kit enhances the aircraft’s communication and navigation capabilities.

According to Boeing, 222 C-130 aircraft were to receive the avionics upgrade.

The 330th Aircraft Sustainment Wing and the 402nd Maintenance Wing at Robins are responsible for the maintenance of the Air Force’s C-130 fleet. The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center is slated to be one of three stops on the C-130 AMP assembly line. The Odgen Air Logistics Center in Utah and a Boeing facility in San Antonio are the others.

The proposal to cut the C-130 AMP was not completely unexpected. Earlier this summer Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates tightened the Pentagon’s belt, ordering each military service to trim budgets and collectively find $60 billion in savings during the next five years.

The program has been beset by cost overruns and delays since Boeing was awarded a $4 billion contract for the program in 2001.

A 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office noted that the cost of the program increased $700 million while slashing the number of aircraft serviced by the program roughly in half, “nearly doubling the program acquisition unit costs since 2005.”

Boeing officials deny that poor performance is driving the Pentagon to consider canceling the program and insist that the kits are ready to be installed.

“The AMP program is production ready,” Boeing spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan said. “All the development is done ... we just need the funding to be released.”

A Robins spokesman stressed that the proposal is “predecisional.” He would not comment further on the Bloomberg report. Fifteen other programs are targeted for cuts, according to the article.

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.

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