Today and increasingly, the Argentine Air Force C-130 and KC-130H’s are having operational setbacks. Engine failures are not uncommon, and it gets ever more difficult to procure the necessary funding to properly stock the AF.
The argentine C-130’s are without question, the most important aircraft in the nation, critical for a number of duties including paradrop, search and rescue, transport and air to air refueling (only KC-130). An important overhaul and upgrade program were implemented from 2014 and on by the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) in partnership with L-3 to integrate the Flight II+ suite in the argentine aircraft, also the two KC-130s have been equipped with a Wescam MX-10 gyrostabilized platform with LLTV and IR/EO sensors.
Such an FMS sponsored upgrade was only recently paid and at a great cost, armed forces land and properties were auctioned in order to procure necessary payment also of brand-new Bell 412 EP helicopters, T-6C Texan II and their conversion to the C+ standard. Although this upgrade will bring new life to the argentine Hercules, the aircraft are not getting any younger. Past years proposals to acquire second hand aircraft from U.S. surplus did not get the proper funding to be accomplished.
AF anonymous sources indicate that even while a considerable effort is put on retaining and qualifying new crews (at least 14 for this year alone) and consumables, a large investment is needed not just to overhaul the current Rolls Royce T56 engines but to acquire more of them. That being new or U.S. surplus. Military experts also express their concerns on the need to incorporate more and other type of aircraft, also to stop using the C-130 in all sorts of purposes just for the fact of being the only transport aircraft available. Both for strategic and lesser tactical transport.
The Argentine AF is interested in pursuing the regeneration of more of their retired existing aircraft other than incorporating a strategic transport aircraft. At the time, the Boeing 707 were deemed too costly, but this not actually related to the aircraft itself but to the funds allocation that are common in the last 30 to 40 years. Options as to require C-130J’s and/or KC-390s have been considered but a decision has not been made yet.