Master Sgt. Christopher Dumond, a flight engineer in the 109th Airlift Wing's 139th Airlift Squdron, conducts preflight maintenance checks on an LC-130H Ski Equipped aircraft; outiftted with newly overhauled NP2000 T56-15A (3.5 modified) engines. The flight tests the capabilites of the new engines.USAF's LC-130H “Skibird” on the move with newly overhauled engines

As the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing launched the first of five Lockheed Martin LC-130H “Skibird” aircraft to Antarctica on 19 October 2022, more became known about their newly overhauled engines.

Normally, ten LC-130Hs and three C-130Hs are stationed, with the 139th Airlift Squadron, part of the 109th Airlift Wing, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, Schenectady (NY). Because the 109th Airlift Wing operates the Department of Defense’s only ski-equipped LC-130H Hercules aircraft, the wing deploys annually to the cold and austere environments of Greenland and Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

While not based in the Continental United States (CONUS), every November to March a handfull of the Skibirds will operate for Operation Deep Freeze out of National Science Foundation’s (NSF's) McMurdo Station. McMurdo Station is a US Antarctic research station on the south tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. During Operation Deep Freeze, the unit is flying personnel and supplies throughout the continent.

The LC-130H version of the C-130 Hercules is the largest aircraft in the world able to land on snow and ice on skis. The aircraft are equipped with eight-bladed propellers for the turboprop engines to provide additional power. During this deployment, the "Skibirds", outiftted with newly overhauled NP2000 T56-15A (3.5 modified) engines, will be tested on the capabilites operating in cold environments.

USA USAF LC 130H 2 480USA USAF 139AS NYANG 320The NY Air Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing flew a ski-equipped LC-130H outfitted with the more powerful engines for the first time during a test flight at Stratton Air National Guard Base on 11 October 2022. Combined with the LC-130H’s NP2000 eight bladed propellors, this 3.5 engine is the finishing piece to the NP2000 system; modernising the 139th AS's fleet into a more powerful polar airlift force.

The new engine upgrades build upon the previous improvements of the NP2000 propellers, fully integrated into the fleet back in 2019, the NP2000 propellers have eight blades instead of the four on the legacy engines. On 20 September 2020, Scramble Magazine wrote about those NP2000 propellers.

It is expected that the high-tech propellers increase torque for accelerate takeoffs on ice and snow, and streamline LC-130H maintenance requirements. The future of the programme will have the unit overhauling the engine systems of an additional four aircraft by their next flying season in Greenland in April of 2023, and the entire fleet by the following Operation Deep Freeze deployment of 2023 and 2024.

The following ten LC-130Hs are with New York ANG's 139th AS/ 109th AW. For training and utility tasks they also have three C-130Hs:

LC-130H: 73-3300, 76-3301, 76-3302, 83-0490, 83-0491, 83-0492, 83-0493, 92-1094, 92-1095 and 92-1096
C-130H: 83-0489, 84-0208 and 84-0209

Photos via USAF

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