A Matter of Affordability

A tightening budget drove the Air Force’s decision to cancel the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program in Fiscal 2013, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. “This was simply a recognition of affordability,” Schwartz told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Tuesday, when questioned on the decision. Under the C-130 AMP, Boeing has been upgrading the cockpit displays and communications and navigation gear in C-130H2, -H2.5, and –H3 transports. “In the prior budget environment, it was a magnificent modification to the airplane, no question about it,” said Schwartz. He noted that the AMP upgrades allowed these models of C-130s to fly with one less crew member: the navigator. “Having that magnificent cockpit and one less crew member was desirable,” but simply “not affordable” in the current budget climate, he said. The AMP modifications cost “in the neighborhood of $19 million a bird,” said Schwartz. In the place of AMP, the Air Force is proposing a “less ambitious” upgrade that will satisfy the navigation requirements—for operating safely in crowded airspace—for “less than $5 million an airplane,” he said.