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ERCIYES C-130 Modernization Program Will Keep C-130B/E Aircraft in Service Until the 2040s

Issue 119 - December 2022

The acceptance of the 11th aircraft as part of the C-130 ERCIYES modernization program, which covers the avionics modernization of a total of 19 C-130E/B aircraft (13 C-130Es and 6 C-130Bs), which are used effectively in operational and logistic missions by the Turkish Air Forces Command, has been completed.

President of Defense Industries Prof. Ismail DEMIR made the following remarks on the acceptance and delivery process on his Twitter account: "As part of the ERCIYES Project, we are making significant breakthroughs and modernizing the Air Forces Command’s C-130 fleet by providing them with new capabilities. We are delivering our aircraft to the Air Force compatible with international navigation requirements, equipped with a multi-purpose mission computer and ground mission planning system with high operational effectiveness, as well as with display and lighting systems that are compatible with night vision technology. We, as the Turkish defense industry, will keep enhancing our airborne power." 

What is Covered by C-130E/B Avionics Modernization?

The C-130BM/EM Hercules Military Transport Aircraft was equipped with a Digital Cockpit (4-color Multifunctional Display with moving map capability-MFD), 2 Central Display Units (CDU) and 2 multifunction Central Control Computers compatible with international navigational requirements, as well as with a multifunction Mission Computer with high operational capability, Flight Management System (FMS), Ground Mission Planning Unit compatible with the Air Force Information System, and display and lighting systems compatible with Night Vision Goggles.

Within the scope of the project, Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ) is responsible for the integration of the avionics system, consisting of 118 devices from 23 different systems, the integration of the National Flight Management System (FMS), which assumes the role of the navigation officer, the integration of Link-16, and the development of the Ground Mission Planning Unit.

TUSAŞ engineers install the redesigned central control computer of the ERCIYES C130 aircraft, also modernize critical components such as the GPS, indicator, anti-collision system, air radar, advanced military and civilian navigation systems, night-time invisible lighting for military missions, black box voice recorder, communication systems, advanced automated flight systems (military and civilian), systems enabling operation in the military network, digital moving map and ground mission planning systems. With the modernization that facilitates the C130’s mission capability, pilot workload is also reduced, and a safe flight is ensured with automated route tracking from take-off to landing. These aircraft integrated with the latest technology have also attained execution and digital military/civil planning capabilities. In addition, compliance with civil aviation rules for saving time and fuel has been achieved. The modernization has also improved the ability of C130 aircraft to land in airfields precisely and safely thanks to their increased situational awareness.

The Operational Flight Program (OFP - with nearly 3.2 million lines of code) used in the national mission computer (Central Control Computer) to control and manage the new avionic equipment in aircraft was developed by TUSAŞ engineers in accordance with DO-178B Level-A standards. 

Through the digital cockpit compatible with Night Vision Goggles (NVG), safe navigation capability has been secured at night, day and under all weather conditions. Besides, the aircraft has gained the capability to allow for night jumping (both parachutists and loads) at low altitudes. 

Within the scope of the project, the aircraft were also equipped with the MIDS Terminal and Link-16 Tactical Data Link System. Thus, the C-130BM/EM Aircraft has now become capable of conducting integrated operations with the E-7T Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, modernized F-16s and command control elements (this capability was used in the operation conducted in Libya recently). With the Link-16 Tactical Data Link Integration activities, the aircraft gained interoperability with other platforms in the inventory (ability to share video, audio, and text (in short message format) with other friendly and allied elements).  With Link-16, C-130BM/EM Aircraft are able to transmit short, concise and cosmic confidential information to both ground (air-to-ground) and air (air-to-air) elements. 

The C-130 Hercules Aircraft has a crew of five; two Pilots, Navigator, Flight Engineer, and Loadmaster. Thanks to the FMS software developed by TUSAŞ engineers and by replacing the Navigator within the scope of the ERCIYES Project, the number of crew in the modernized C-130BM/EM Hercules Aircraft will be reduced to four. 

While the serial production of two prototypes and four aircraft is carried out at TUSAŞ facilities, the avionics modernization activities of a total of 13 aircraft are performed by the 2nd Air Supply Maintenance Center Command in Kayseri. 

During the modernization activities conducted in two hangars leased to TUSAŞ at the Kayseri 2nd Air Supply Maintenance Center Command under ASFAT, the integration and installation of the avionics modernization kit on each C-130 aircraft takes nearly 6 months, while the depot-level maintenance and repair takes approximately 6-7 months. Thus, the maintenance of the aircraft covers both the depot-level maintenance and repair and avionic modernization at the same time.

At a ceremony held at TUSAŞ facilities on August 8, 2014, the first prototype aircraft (C-130E), whose design, integration, production, ground and flight tests, and qualification activities were completed as part of the project, which was carried out by TUSAŞ (the main contractor), was delivered to the Turkish Air Forces Command. In December 2016, the second prototype aircraft (C-130B) was delivered to the Air Forces Command. 

The goal of this modernization is to ensure that C-130s can operate safely until the 2040s.

Following the delivery of 11 of the 19 C-130B/E aircraft that have undergone/will undergo avionic modernization within the scope of the ERCIYES Project, the modernization activities of the remaining 8 aircraft are anticipated to be completed in 2023 and 2024 and delivered to the Air Forces Command. 

The Air Forces Command renames the aircraft C-130EM and C-130BM after modernization is completed.