Air Transportation: Mexican Politicians Love The C-130J

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October 5, 2012: Mexico is buying two C-130J transports from the United States. Mexico already operates four older C-130s (E and L models). Including support, training, and spare parts (including two engines) the C-130J deal will cost $412 million. These two new transports will primarily be used for "presidential support." That apparently means helping politicians to move around, with a secondary role of helping with the war against the drug cartels, if there is a serious emergency.

The C-130 continues to thrive after over half a century because they are a reliable and inexpensive way to move cargo and personnel to improvised airfields. The C-130J transport proved to be more than just another model in the fifty year old C-130 design. This is mainly because it's cheaper and easier to use. Like most new commercial transports, the C-130J emphasizes saving money. The new engines generate 29 percent more thrust while using 15 percent less fuel. Increased automation reduced crew size from four to three. The rear ramp door can now be opened in flight when the aircraft is going as fast as 450 kilometers an hour, versus the current 270 kilometers an hour.

The C-130J is more reliable and easier to maintain. So far, C-130Js have cost nearly twenty percent less per hour than previous models. The current 70 ton MC-130H (there are several MC-130 models) has a crew of seven, a cruise speed of 480 kilometers an hour, and unrefueled range of 4,300 kilometers. This version can carry 77 passengers, or 52 paratroopers, or 57 litter patients and 18 tons of cargo or specialized containers outfitted with business jet amenities.

The most common version of the C-130 still in service is the C-130H. It has a range of 8,368 kilometers, a top speed of 601 kilometers per hour, and can carry up to 18 tons of cargo, 92 troops, or 64 paratroopers. The latest version, the C-130J, has a top speed of 644 kilometers, 40 percent more range than the C-130H, and can carry 20 tons of cargo. The stretched C-130J-30 can carry more bulky cargo and goes for about $100 million each. The C-130 has flown for over 50 countries since the late 1950s.

 


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