Air Force Reserve Command’s 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., recently retired its last legacy HC-130 King search and rescue support aircraft, the unit announced. The unit’s six heavily used HC-130P/N airframes were grounded last year due to corrosion and would have required an expensive and time-consuming depot-level overhaul to continue in service, AFRC leadership acknowledged. The aircraft will be back-filled by less-worn HC-130s made available by the ongoing recapitalization of the Active Duty fleet with new-build HC-130J Combat King IIs, according to a unit release. “We are excited about receiving our newer [slightly used] aircraft and making them a part of the family,” said 920th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander Maj. Stephen Young. The last of Patrick’s former fleet, serial number 65-00976, departed for the boneyard after several hours’? delay to replace an engine on Sept. 9, 2015. The aircraft accumulated more than 16,000 flight hours before retiring to storage.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.