Air Force grounds 100 C-130 aircraft due to ‘atypical cracks’

The US Air Force temporarily removed 123 C-130 Hercules aircraft from service on Wednesday, citing the discovery of “atypical cracks” on “the lower center wing joint” during scheduled depot maintenance.

Gen. Maryanne Miller the commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command “ordered the temporary removal of 123 of 450 Total Force C-130 Hercules from service on Aug. 7, after “atypical cracks were discovered” during programed depot maintenance,” Air Mobility Command said in a statement.

Only planes with over 15,000 equivalent flight hours are to be inspected.

“In consultation with aircraft maintenance and engineering experts, Gen. Miller directed an immediate time compliance technical order inspection to identify and correct any cracking to ensure airworthiness of these C-130 aircraft,” the statement said, adding that “aircraft that are inspected and determined to have no cracking will be immediately returned to service.”

Maj. Jonathan Simmons, a spokesman for Air Mobility Command, told CNN Thursday that 10 aircraft had already returned to service following inspections.

The C-130 aircraft plays a major role in helping the the US military fly troops, equipment and cargo around the world, something made easier by the plane’s ability to use rough, dirt airstrips in hostile environments.

The planes can carry up to 42,000 pounds of cargo or about 90 combat troops. The original C-130 was introduced in the 1950s, however the more modern “H” and “J” model variants like those that were removed from service, were introduced in the 1970s and 1990s respectively.

While Simmons said that “a small number” of the C-130 aircraft that have been removed had been overseas operating in support of military operations, the Air Force said that “at this time, it has been assessed that this temporary removal of service will not impact ongoing C-130 support to overseas contingency operations.”