The Air Force is pulling a quarter of its C-130s out of service for wing crack inspections

Military Tech

Chief Master Sgt. Eric Evers, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent, walks on a ramp as he marshals a C-130H Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 16, 2017.

(U.S. Air Force/Yasuo Osakabe)

The Air Force has pulled roughly one quarter of its C-130 transport planes out of service after "atypical cracks" were discovered on planes' wings during maintenance, Air Mobility Command has announced.

Air Force Magazine reporter Rachel Cohen first reported on Thursday that 123 out of the service's 450 C-130s required the wing crack inspections.

So far, eight of those planes have been inspected and returned to service, said Air Mobility Command spokesman Maj. Jonathan Simmons.

"Each of the 123 aircraft will undergo inspections, projected to take approximately eight hours per aircraft," Simmons told Task & Purpose on Thursday. "These inspections will occur at the locations the aircraft were at the time of the TCTO [time compliance technical order] and the overall timeline depends upon the capacity to inspect at those locations. Operational requirements will be a consideration in this timeline."

The temporary loss of that many C-130s is not expected to affect operations overseas, according to an Aug. 7 Air Mobility Command news release.

Gen. Maryanne Miller, head of Air Mobility Command, ordered the immediate inspections for the cracks, which were discovered on the lower center wing joint, known as the "rainbow fitting," the AMC news release says.

"Each aircraft that is inspected with no defect found will be immediately returned to service," Simmons said.

The inspections should take place on C-130H and newer J models with more than 15,000 flight hours that have not received the extended service life center wing box, the news release says.

This is the latest body blow to the Air Force, which has been struggling to keep older aircraft flying despite recent increases in defense spending since President Donald Trump took office.

Air Force Times reporter Stephen Losey recently reported that the mission capable rates for all Air Force aircraft dropped from 77.9 percent in fiscal 2012 to 69.97 percent in fiscal 2018.

At the end of July, only seven of the Air Force's 61 B-1B Lancers could fly, Air Force Global Strike Command told Task & Purpose at the time.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis had ordered the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to have 80 percent of their fighter aircraft able to fly by Oct. 1, but Breaking Defense Editor Colin Clark reported in July that the F-35 fleet is not expected to meet that threshold due to a lack of parts, such as its specially coated canopy.

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

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