SHAH ALAM: Thailand upgrading Hercules engines. It was announced at the Paris Air Show that the Royal Thai Air Force has become the first international customer to sign for the Rolls Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade.
From Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce is pleased to announce the Royal Thai Air Force as the first international customer to update its C-130H transport fleet with the Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade.
The technology upgrade has achieved considerable success with the US Air Force C-130 and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) P-3 fleets. The Series 3.5 upgrade allows T56 engines to operate at greatly reduced temperatures, extending parts life and improving reliability by 22 per cent. It is available for installation on T56 engines powering either C-130 or P-3 legacy aircraft.
The Series 3.5 upgrade will help the Royal Thai Air Force to reduce operational costs due to reduced maintenance requirements and potential fuel savings exceeding 12 per cent. It will also enable the fleet to remain in service until at least 2040.
Paul Craig, Rolls-Royce, President – Defence Services, said, “Rolls-Royce is pleased to secure the Royal Thai Air Force as our first international customer for the T56 Series 3.5 upgrade. The Series 3.5 package has already proven itself with the US Air Force and we are pleased that the Royal Thai Air Force will now be able to benefit from the improved fuel economy and enhanced performance and reliability that this upgrade offers.”
The first phase of the upgrade involves upgrading 20 engines from a total fleet of 58 engines over the next three years.
The Series 3.5 technology, which is based on proven advances from other Rolls-Royce engines, can be added during regular overhauls to reduce cost and requires no changes to the aircraft or controls.
The Royal Thai Air Force selected Segers Aero Corporation in the US to conduct the upgrade program following a competitive and comprehensive tender process. Segers Aero Corp is a Rolls-Royce Authorized Maintenance Center (AMC) and will be providing training, tooling, technical support, capability development and field service support in conjunction with the engine upgrade schedule.
The upgrades done for the USAF Hercules was reported here.
As you are aware RMAF is also trying to get the funding to ugprade its Hercules fleet. It is unclear however whether an engine upgrade is part of the plan however. Back in 2014, the contract for the Hercules upgrades mostly involving avionics were signed but the project never took off.
However the engine upgrades offered by Rolls Royce looked pretty promising and as mentioned in the release as these could be done during regular maintenance cycles, it could be piggy-backed later instead of being part of the current upgrade negotiations. Putting additional upgrades will only delay the start of the programme already four years behind schedule.
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IMO ideal items to be included for Hercules upgrades
Great. Prolly Airod can be contracted to do this upgrade
A great upgrade. Saves the country money over the long term. Pays for itself over the fuel savings n maintenance cost. Also more efficient operations n power to boot. A cost efficient upgrade
“Great. Prolly Airod can be contracted to do this upgrade”
Sure, but it will to the cost. This even though Airod already has facilities in place.
Of course it will be AIROD. Who else? AIROD as the main contractor will be awarded the contract and in turn it will work with foreign companies.
At this stage – even though our Charlies have plenty of life left – an upgrade will be limited to the most essential things. It will not be a comprehensive upgrade.
In other words the bare minimum and nothing else : similar to the Hawk upgrade that was approved by the previous government.
Hawks future will not be long, unlike the hercules which is to be used along with the A400M.
Currently our youngest herc is about 29 years old, oldest about 43.
IMO we could have at least 20 more years of service out of our hercs. And it would be a no brainer due to all our investments in having most technical facilities and human resources to do almost everything for the herc.
For example Singapore air force currently is still flying 4 C-130B models that are 60 years old!
For the upgrades.
The series 3.5 engine upgrade can just be paid for as a normal overhaul cost.
Other upgrades IMO can be paid for by probably selling 2 of our 14 hercs.
Some of the known costs
– NP2000 8-blade prop USD3 mil per aircraft
– Glass cockpit upgrade USD2 mil per aircraft (based on pakistan air force upgrade)
– SATCOM systems are around 100++ thousand dollars each
Upgrade of 12 hercs can be had for less than USD100 million, and probably can be paid for substantially by selling 2 of the hercs.
Never mind what we can do on paper, what we should do, how much it will cost and what others are doing. I’m just stating things as they currently stand.
The intention – like the Hawks – is to spend the bare minimum; nothing more – the bare minimum or the most essential things. A full or comprehensive upgrade is something that the previous government wasn’t willing to do and something the present government is also extremely unlikely to go for; irrespective of whatever advantages there are in doing so. It’s not me you should be trying to convince.
Yes I’m very aware that our Charlies still have lots of life left and I did mention this in my previous post.
Probably not the extensive list in my first comment.
But the cockpit and avionics upgrade is a must to enable it to fly future international routes, and the engine/propeller upgrades will pay itself in fuel savings and longer overhaul intervals.
I honestly dunno if there’s a buyer for these old C-130s, especially not for usd100 mil. Mind you there’s a couple of unsold C-130s that Airod tried to get rid of not to mention plenty of C-130B/E/T/H models that are mothballed in the US that is available for giveaway prices
It’s better if they upgrade all of these C-130s and maybe even ask if Airod could make a proper MPA out of those unsold C-130s
That thing for flying internationally (I’m too lazy to check what its correct designation is) was suppose to happen in the early 2000’s and was one of the things approved in principle but subject to funding. It was postponed when the A400s were ordered.
As far as I know the upgrade – as approved previously – involved the replacement of certain avionics, comms and other stuff. Nothing major like a full glass cockpit or a self defence suite.
Maybe (a big maybe) the present government will go for slightly more ambitious upgrade.
” That thing for flying internationally (I’m too lazy to check what its correct designation is) was suppose to happen in the early 2000’s and was one of the things approved in principle but subject to funding ”
It is the ADS-B compliance.
You just need to install an ADS-B transponder for the aircraft to be able to fly international routes. It is basically a civillian IFF system. Yes, no need to actually upgrade the cockpit to a glass one. The cost to upgrade an aircraft to install just the transponder nowadays should be around the price of a Perodua Axia, while about 5 years ago it would cost somewhere around the price of a Proton X70.
There is zero chance of the whole fleet being upgraded. As far back at the late 1990’s or the early 2000’s the RMAF had already been offered MPA configured
One reason there was no interest is because of the costs involved; not only the fuel for each hour flown but also the post flight maintenance.
Hey guys, let’s not get too distracted from our main aim at the moment. That is the MPA/ MALE UAV and LCA. No point talking about Hercules upgrade at this point if the Charlies still plenty of life in them. One thing at a time……
“It’s better if they upgrade all of these C-130s and maybe even ask if Airod could make a proper MPA out of those unsold C-130s”
Exactly! The same that I had proposed in an earlier thread. As for fuel cost, definitely will be higher but the range and loiter time for these 4 engined birds just cannot be met by a 2 engined one. Anything of closer range can be met by SeaGuardian which has even cheaper operational cost compared to ATR72, CN295, et al.
The LM MPA proposal is still a proposal. It has no customer yet and even LM concede that it will be up to three years for the proposal to come to reality, if there is a customer.
By the way
TUDM first ever MPA was actually the Hercules!
We had 3x C-130H-MP, the only external difference is the observation door for the paratroop door, which is now being pooled among all hercs in the fleet.
The high operational cost of flying the hercules for long hours is what made the airforce to replace them with much smaller beechcraft B200T MPA instead.
US coast guard also uses the HC-130 for maritme patrol and SAR. But for those who are looking for an MPA, it is more cost effective just to buy a P-3 Orion instead of converting the hercules. The P-3 has an internal bomb bay for torpedoes, integral sonobuoy launchers and reputedly has a nicer ride at low altitude (less buffeting) than the hercules.
The C-130s still have lots of life left but there is still a need to upgrade them. The upgrade is intended to replace worn out parts, to reduce the crew workload and make them more efficient and economical to operate.
Irrespective of what some may propose or hope to happen; there never was any intention to upgrade all of them : not years ago and certainly not now.
Some keep on going about the prospect of the C-130s being converted to MPAs but there’s a higher chance of the Central African Republic buying a long range, over the horizon radar. There is zero interest on the part of the government and RMAF.