Intratheater Airlift:

Information on the Air Force's C-130 Aircraft

NSIAD-98-108: Published: Apr 21, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1998.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's C-130 program, focusing on: (1) the mission of the current and planned C-130 fleet; (2) the C-130 requirements for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve; (3) the C-130 procurement history in the Guard and Reserve units; (4) the Air Force's plans for retiring excess C-130s in the Mastering Station Plan (MSP); (5) whether the Air Force's process for retiring C-130 aircraft when replacement aircraft become available is effective; (6) what the Air Force C-130J requirement is and what other alternatives were considered; and (7) the C-130J logistics support funding shortfall.

GAO noted that: (1) the current C-130 fleet is comprised of 12 different variants and the missions vary with each variant; (2) while most of the current fleet is comprised of combat delivery aircraft, many of the C-130 variants perform specialized missions; (3) at the time of GAO's review, peacetime and wartime requirements for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve combat delivery aircraft totalled 264 aircraft; (4) requirements for the Guard and Reserves' C-130 combat delivery aircraft are established in the Air Force's C-130 MSP, which was delivered to Congress in 1997; (5) for the past 21 years with the exception of five aircraft, Congress has directed the procurement of C-130s for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units; (6) according to C-130 program officials, the Air Force has not requested these aircraft because aircraft in those units have many years of service life remaining; (7) about 50 C-130 aircraft were identified in the Air Force MSP as excess over requirements; (8) thirty of these were in the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve units and the remaining were in the active duty force; (9) reductions in the Air National Guard were expected to be 24 aircraft and the Air Force Reserve Command units were to be reduced by 6 aircraft; (10) according to Air Force officials, these reductions were not made; (11) although the Air Force has a process for governing the retirement of its aircraft, it has not been able to implement the process effectively; (12) as a result, some C-130 aircraft have been retired with substantial service life remaining and shortly after the aircraft had been modified; (13) as of March 1998, the Air Force had not decided how many C-130Js will be required; (14) the Air Force has been requesting one or two C-130Js per year since 1996 for the active force; (15) the remaining J acquisitions were congressionally-directed buys for the Guard and Reserve; (16) regarding alternatives to the J, GAO was told that alternatives have been evaluated and rejected in the past; and (17) Air Force C-130 officials stated that funding shortfalls for the C-130 fleet have historically been a problem, primarily because Congress has added C-130 aircraft to their budget without providing the needed funding for logistics support.

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