My recent visit to 33 Transport Aviation Base in Powidz, the home of C-130 is standing behind this little post. As months and years go by our old C-130 E Hercules aircraft are not getting any younger. And as someone pointed out, there are never to many of such machines because the army as a whole starts to appreciate the new transport capabilities and is using the planes more and more.
This is why we had to buy more C-295 and even though we have many of them they are in constant use. The real problem is the lack of heavy lift. Just to clarify – in Polish circumstances heavy lift doesn’t mean a C-17 or C-5 but something the size of C-130.
We only have 5 C-130 E but that doesn’t mean all of them fly! As usually in the air forces some equipment is undergoing standard repairs, some has major overhauls which can last even a year long etc. This brings the number of ready to use aircraft to 2, maybe 3. And this is not enough! The problem will get even worse, as time is ticking and soon we will celebrate their 50th birthday. We can not repair them forever!
Polish Ministry of Defense has to think out something, and they ought to do it quickly. In 5 years we should have new aircraft and I really hope that this time they will be really new and not just “new in our inventory”. Natural direction would be a C-130 J but in greater number that the used now C-130 E’s. This would be a huge cost for the budget so I presume that other solutions might be preferred. You have to remember that our Su-22 and MiG-29 aircraft are also aging fast so there will be many gaps to fill and the budget is not made out of rubber.
Photo: Piotr Łysakowski