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First-of-its-kind upgraded C-130H returns to Wyoming ANG

First of its kind upgraded C-130H returns to Wyo. Air Guard

A one of a kind C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the Wyoming Air National Guard is seen flying, Jan. 6, 2018 at Cheyenne Regional Airport. The aircraft is the first of the legacy H-model C-130 fleet to be modified with upgraded T-56 Rolls Royce 3.5 engines, NP2000 eight-bladed propellers and electronic propeller controls. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Charles Delano)

First of its kind upgraded C-130H returns to Wyo. Air Guard

A one of a kind C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the Wyoming Air National Guard lands, Jan. 6, 2018 at Cheyenne Regional Airport. The aircraft is the first of the legacy H-model C-130 fleet to be modified with upgraded T-56 Rolls Royce 3.5 engines, NP2000 eight-bladed propellers and electronic propeller controls. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Charles Delano)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing briefly welcomed home the Air Force's first fully-upgraded C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft, Saturday.

This aircraft is the first C-130H to receive extensive upgrades allowing the Air National Guard to remain competitive with the C-130J found primarily at active-duty wings.

During the past 18 months, this specific aircraft has been at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, receiving three separate engine-related modifications aiming to make the legacy aircraft more efficient.

These modifications include upgrading to an eight bladed NP2000 propeller, replacing the original four metal propellers; switching to an electronic propeller controlled system; and equipping the aircraft with Rolls-Royce T56 series 3.5 engines.

"We are very excited to be getting the NP2000 props, the electronic propeller control system (EPCS), and the 3.5 series engine upgrades," said Maj. Leanna Thomas, 153rd Airlift Wing chief of safety and C-130H pilot. "With these modifications, we'll see significant improvements that have been needed to ensure longevity and mission flexibility."

While there are various wings across the Air National Guard that have C-130Hs, the Wyoming Air National Guard was chosen specifically because of its involvement in the initial testing with the EPCS and NP2000 in 2008, when the Air Force was first exploring the idea of upgrading the H-model.

Collectively, these upgrades will increase performance, fuel efficiency and reliability of the aircraft, which will sustain the life and relevance of the H-model. Additionally, they will allow Air National Guard units to cut costs by not having to upgrade to its successor, the C-130J.

"When we add these modifications to all of our aircraft, we will greatly increase the reliability and performance of the C-130H, and the overall lethality of the United States Air Force," said Col. Justin Walrath, 153rd Airlift Wing commander.

While the unit is looking forward to the modified legacy aircraft, further testing will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, before the remainder of 153rd's fleet and C-130Hs across the Air Force are upgraded.