Romanian’s defense minister said his country plans to upgrade
its fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130B transport aircraft, in hopes
of providing strategic airlift support to North Atlantic Treaty
During a recent media breakfast in Washington, Ioan Mircea Pascu
said that, as a new member of NATO, Romania plans to contribute
niche military capabilities to the alliance, one of which is airlift.
The C-130 Hercules is a medium-lift cargo airplane widely used
around the world.
Pascu said that his country had been greatly affected by the September
11 terrorist attacks. “Now we have war in the middle of the
society,” which means that it is necessary to “abandon
strict territorial defense tactics,” he said.
Strategic airlift is one of three emerging areas of specialization
in Romania’s military. The forces also are honing their skills
in mountain operations and chemical-biological weapons defense,
said Sorin Ducaru, Romania’s ambassador to the United States.
“We are talking about how we can develop our strength in
strategic airlift,” Pascu said. Romania is the only country
in the region that operates C-130s, he added.
Peter Simmons, a spokesman at Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics
Division, confirmed that Romania is looking at options to upgrade
its Hercules fleet. “We are aware that they have expressed
some interest in upgrading or enhancing that aircraft,” he
Lockheed Martin is performing upgrades to C-130s around the world,
said Simmons. One option includes “taking the standard length
and stretching it,” and improving basic systems with digital
technology. The C-130 also can be converted into a refueling aircraft.
Simmons noted that Malaysia and Sweden are both retrofitting their
C-130s for that use.
“What we tend to do with C-130 operators is sit down and
ask them what they want to do, based on force structure and needs,
and then ask them how much money they have, so we can build them
something,” said Simmons. “You can really sit down with
a shopping list and decide what you want to do,” he added.
Simmons said that upgrading and retrofitting C-130s tends to be
much less costly than buying new airplanes. A digital cockpit reduces
the four-man crew to a two-man crew, for example. A stretched C-130
carries a larger volume of cargo, so fewer trips are needed. Newer
C-130 versions are also more fuel efficient, he added.