The Air Force had inspected 90 percent of its fleet of C-130 Hercules transports by the middle of last week and had found about half with defective wing-joint barrel nuts. According to Terrence May, director of the 330th Aircraft Sustainment Group at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia where the problem first manifested during routine depot maintenance, replacement of those nuts may take a few more weeks because of limited supplies. Air Mobility Command officials said C-130s engaged in Southwest Asia operations have priority. Of the original problem aircraft, May said technicians found that five of the 13 upper barrel nuts were cracked, and, while one or two might not be an issue, more than two sparks concern. The culprit appears to be exposure of the high-strength steel nuts to hydrogen, and even though all the cracked parts came from the same manufacturer, May shies from finger-pointing. He said, “It may very well be those nuts were fully manufactured in accordance with the design, and we are just finding something a little bit different.” To speed the replacement process, the ALC is checking other, readily available nuts that may suffice and whether Warner Robins should begin its own manufacture of them, said May. (Robins report by Wayne Crenshaw)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.