USAF Investigating Whether Fallen MC-130 Part Signals Broader Issue

An MC-130J Commando II taxis on the flight line July 28, 2016, at Kadena AB, Japan. USAF photo by SrA. Peter Reft.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with information from Kadena AB, Japan. The photo caption also has been corrected to accurately reflect the variant of MC-130 pictured.

The Air Force’s C-130 program office is looking into what caused a torque tube and spring to recently fall off of a special operations plane in Japan, a service spokesman said Oct. 25.

“It is not an issue we have seen before,” Air Force Life Cycle Management Center spokesman Brian Brackens said in an email. “Therefore, we will be sending the part to the lab for failure analysis. The findings of this analysis will help us to determine whether this was an isolated incident or if it will impact the C-130 fleet.”

Airmen discovered the torque tube and spring missing from the MC-130J during an post-flight inspection Oct. 18, Kadena AB, Japan officials told Air Force Magazine. The assembly weighs 1.2 pounds and is 4.4 feet long by 1.25 inches in diameter, and is believed to have fallen off during take off or landing.

The aircraft—assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group—had been doing touch-and-go training at Kadena and Ie Shima training range. Ie Shima is a US Marine Corps-controlled airfield on a small island just off the coast of Okinawa.

The assembly was found later Oct. 18 at Ie Shima; the 353rd SOG is still investigating what caused the incident.

When asked about the possible fleetwide impact the incident could have for all C-130s, an Air Mobility Command spokeswoman referred the question to AFLCMC. Earlier this year, AMC launched inspections of all operational C-130s that were at risk for unusual wing joint cracks after one of the Lockheed Martin-built planes prompted a broader investigation into about one-fourth of USAF C-130s.

The Air Force also grounded 60 C-130Hs in February to address propeller problems.