LONDON — The expectation was that the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Hercules C-130J fleet would get a bit of a breather after the drawdown from a long Afghanistan campaign was completed at the end of last year.
But the reverse has been true, adding to the debate over whether the upcoming British government strategic defense and security review (SDSR) will revise the aircraft’s intended 2022 out-of-service date.
“We thought we would be less busy after Afghanistan, but what we found is we are busier. We made an assumption and it has not quite worked out that way,” said Sqn. Ldr. Stuart Wright, the executive officer of XXIV Squadron, the RAF’s air mobility operational conversion unit.
As if to emphasis the point, Wright, who was giving a training brief to reporters at the RAF’s Brize-Norton base in Oxfordshire, England, on April 27, had been on the phone for much of the previous evening trying to piece together a plan involving three crews and a C-130J to fly supplies to support the emergency aid effort in the wake of the Nepal earthquake.
In the last few months, the RAF’s 24-strong J fleet has been involved in the fight against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, the Ebola crisis in West Africa, supporting the United Nations in South Sudan, a defense exercise program and a host of other tasks — including supporting British special forces.
Read More:UK C-130J Ops Increase After Afghan Pullout.