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By Edwin L. Wriston
The West Virginia National Guard is proud to announce that the 130th Airlift Wing has met the requirements to be declared a C-130J-30 unit with Initial Operational Capability as of January 1, 2024.
Located in Charleston, West Virginia, the 130th has been in the process of transitioning airframes from the C-130 H3 Hercules model to the advanced C-130J-30 Super Hercules model since 2021. The unit currently operates eight C-130J-30 aircraft, each valued at approximately $90 million.
“Attaining the IOC certification represents a significant milestone for the unit and is validation of the dedication and tremendous effort put forth by the aircrews, maintainers and support staff of the 130th,” stated Major General Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “Our entire One Guard family is extremely proud of this step in keeping the 130th and our entire Guard at the forefront of technological innovation and the future war fight.”
IOC is defined as the first attainment of the full capability to effectively employ a system or platform. IOC designation also includes the completion of nine months of operational test and evaluation drills meant to stress the aircraft and its crews under realistic conditions and operating environments.
“Today’s announcement is an incredible testament to the brave men and women of our National Guard as they fulfill an expanded role with more capable and modern aircraft. The 130th Airlift Wing has a proven history of excellence in service, which is exactly why they were awarded these new C-130J aircraft in 2020. I’m proud to continually support their mission on the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees and I send my heartfelt congratulations to everyone who played a role in this important milestone," said Senator Joe Manchin.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito said the news was good for the Guard, the entire state, and the nation.
“Having the fully certified capabilities of the C-130J-30 airframe in West Virginia means that our exceptional Airmen of the 130th will continue to set the bar in service and further their reputation as an invaluable mobility asset here at home and around the globe. I’m proud that this effort that I’ve long supported is coming to realization.”
Governor Jim Justice also added his congratulations to the unit.
“This is a monumental step forward for the West Virginia Air National Guard. The 130th has a demonstrated history of excellence in the C-130 airframe and this announcement is an important point in the process of moving the unit and our nation forward towards a more capable and professional force.”
Entering service in 1965, the C-130 Hercules platform has undergone numerous upgrades to improve durability and performance, culminating in the current J model. Advanced features of the newest model airframe include greater fuel efficiency, increased speed and distance, a higher service ceiling, modernized navigational capabilities, improved safety features, and quieter operation creating less noise pollution and environmental impacts. The J model is 16% larger than its H model predecessor resulting in 33% additional cargo and 43% more passenger capacity, all while operating with two less required crewmembers.
Typical mission sets for the C-130J-30 include tactical airlift (intra-theater), humanitarian relief, aeromedical evacuation, non-combatant evacuation operations, "airdrop", "air land,"
formation flying (multiple aircraft), special operations, and search and rescue. Produced by Lockheed Martin, more than 450 Super Hercules are operational worldwide in 20 allied and partner nations as well as the United States, and the airframe serves as the Air Force's premier intra-theater airlifter.
The 130th Airlift Wing, headquartered at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, West Virginia, is comprised of nearly 1,100 dedicated Citizen Airmen who exemplify their motto, “Ready to Go.” The 130th has been part of the Air Force’s C-130 program since 1975.