The first C-130 Hercules aircraft in the RSAF fleet has been in operation since the late 1970s. To extend the service life of the aircraft, DSTA upgraded the C-130 fleet to ensure its continued operation for another 20 years.

One of the key components of the upgrade includes a new cockpit, which optimises space on the aircrew instrument panel to give an uncluttered presentation to pilots. In place of the needle-and-dial analogue steam gauges, a set of Multi-Function Displays has been installed to give pilots a graphical representation of all the information they need when flying. Enhancing the interface between operator and machine, DSTA has helped the RSAF to reduce crew workload and human error, boosting mission effectiveness.

Apart from having its avionics upgraded, the aircraft had to undergo several other airframe modifications. As the RSAF’s C-130 fleet is used extensively in exercises, peace-support operations, and for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, the team had a challenge to ensure availability of the aircraft while managing the upgrading works. Thus, the avionics upgrade programme was assimilated into the aircraft’s regular maintenance schedule to minimise aircraft downtime and ensure optimal resource management.