C-130 Restoration and Upgrade

English Translation / French Translation
Download PDF

10th March 2014


Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group restores to flight and upgrades two C-130s for the Royal Netherlands Air Force

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) started using C-130s in the mid-1990s, when it took delivery of two C-130H-30 aircraft. About a decade later, its operational requirements changed, necessitating the doubling of its C-130 fleet. Aware of three EC-130Qs, (a model based on the C-130H) in storage in Tucson, Arizona, the operator approached Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Derco a risk sharing partner regarding the feasibility of restoring the aircraft to an airworthy condition.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group’s relationship with the C-130 platform and its OEM, Lockheed Martin, dates back to the 1960s; and the company has performed more than 1,500 modifications and upgrades for more than 20 C-130 military and civil operators worldwide.

C-130 in Tucson

The company conducted a survey on all three aircraft in Tucson and established that restoration to flight would be possible. The RNLAF purchased two of the aircraft; one of which was first registered in 1978 the other in 1983.

C-130 sea journey

It was recommended that the restoration work be performed at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group’s HQ in Cambridge, and the two airframes were dismantled and transported separately; an overland journey from Tucson to the port of Houston followed by a sea journey terminating at Tilbury Docks in the UK. The last leg of each aircraft’s journey was again by land, a short but complex trek to Cambridge.

C-130 recovery

Once on site, ‘recovery’ began, returning the two EC-130Qs to C-130H build standard plus ensuring, where possible, that the aircraft systems matched those of the RNLAF’s first two C-130H-30 aircraft. In addition, all four aircraft were to receive avionics and safety modifications; under Cockpit Upgrade and Cabin Safety Improvement programmes (CUP and CSIMP respectively).

C-130 modifications

Under these programmes Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group designed, integrated, installed, tested and provided certification substantiation data on platform enhancements that comprised a mix of systems developed specifically for the aircraft as well as commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment.

Regarding the nature of the modifications, the CUP included a Communications, Navigation and Surveillance system for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM), enabling the aircraft to comply with the latest regulations on flying in civil airspace. The CNS/ATM is based on CMC Electronics’ Flight Management System (FMS) integrated with an Inertia Reference System (INS), VHF Omni-range Radio (VOR), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) and Global Positioning System (GPS). In addition, the CUP also includes a Traffic Collision Alerting System (TCAS) and an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).

C-130 cockpit

These systems, which broadly constitute a “glass cockpit” (socalled because the majority of analogue instruments are replaced with flat panel digital displays), ease pilot workload whilst increasing situational awareness, and makes the aircraft compliant with the latest civil airspace regulations. The cockpits are also night vision capable.

The cabin safety improvements included improved passenger seating and restraint, systems for smoke detection and emergency lighting, first aid kits, emergency exit markings, plus paratroop door structural modifications.


In summary, the recovery and upgrade of the two C-130s for the RNLAF was one of the most extensive and complex engineering projects undertaken by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group to date. Thanks to the company’s project management and engineering skills, its considerable resources and facilities, and its proven ability to accommodate changes to requirements (once work was underway), the project was a success. Moreover, the modifications have made the RNLAF’s aircraft some of the most capable C-130Hs in the world.