The Air Force has awarded Rolls-Royce a $36 million contract to begin upgrading its fleet of C-130 transport planes, the company announced.
The contract will kick off what is expected to be a long-running agreement with the Air Force to upgrade the entire fleet of 400 C-130E and C-130H engines with Rolls-Royce’s T56 Series 3.5 kits.
Deliveries of the upgrade packages will begin in December, and will introduce the engine improvements into Air Force and US Air National Guard C-130s, according to an Oct. 20 company news release.
The Series 3.5 upgrade, which was designed and funded by Rolls-Royce, enables the engines to operate at low temperatures, extends parts life and improves reliability by 22 percent, according to the statement. The kit will also provide improved “hot and high” performance.
The upgrade will also improve fuel consumption by at least 8 percent and increases time-on-wing by about 30 percent, Tom Hartmann, Rolls-Royce senior vice president of customer business, said in a September interview. The kit is “completely plug-and-play,” and can easily be installed during regular overhauls of the older engines, which take about 30-45 days, Hartmann said.
The Series 3.5 upgrade package can be installed on T56 engines on either C-130 or P-3 aircraft.
The Air Force has estimated incorporating the engine enhancement into its C-130 fleet would save $2 billion by the end of the fleet’s service life.
“The T56 Series 3.5 technology has proven itself in challenging hurricane flight operations on NOAA aircraft and we are excited to launch the upgrades into the US Air Force C-130 fleet so they can achieve the same benefits,” said Phil Burkholder, Rolls-Royce's president for defense aerospace in North America, according to the statement. “The improved fuel economy and enhanced performance demonstrate the value from the Series 3.5 upgrade – operators will benefit from lower operating costs and improved reliability.”