Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold toured a C-130 maintenance line on March 22 at Robins AFB, Ga., to thank the technicians who are working to deliver a rush order of the in-demand special operations aircraft. “This is not by accident that we have come here to show our appreciation to all of you,” he told the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, according to a release. “We don’t have a lot of these airplanes—every one of them matters.” The AFSOC Acceleration Flight is tasked with meeting an accelerated programmed depot maintenance of a total of six AC-130 gunships and MC-130 Combat Talons in Fiscal 2016. Robins returned the first completed AC-130U Spectre to AFSOC in February in a record-breaking 100 days, well within the command’s 152-day deadline. The first of three MC-130Hs to be reworked at Robins recently received an outer wing replacement, according to the release. Heithold—on his second visit to Robins in seven months—said AFSOC will turn to the base’s team again when the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft set to be delivered by Lockheed Martin need retooling. “They’re coming right here because you have a proven track record,” he said, according to the release. “We trust you.” (Video of Heithold’s Robins visit.)
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.