Nigerians receive first C-130 after PDM

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- After more than a year of major repairs and maintenance, the U.S. Air Force helped return to operational service the first of five C-130 Hercules aircraft to Nigeria Jan. 21. Seventeenth Air Force (Air Forces Africa) is orchestrating the capacity-building activity with its partner nation, which includes an extensive maintenance process to reconstitute their fleet.

In February 2009, the Nigerian government requested assistance from the U.S. to reconstitute five of their eight C-130H aircraft to support peacekeeping operations on the continent, said Lt. Col. David Mackenzie, 17th AF's deputy director of the Strategy, Plans, and Programs directorate. The first aircraft then went through an extensive process called Programmed Depot Maintenance, and was readied to be accepted back into the Nigerian fleet. To help with the process, 17th Airmen joined with a team from the 118th Air National Guard Unit, Tenn, and Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center C-130 Program Office. Together, they partnered with their Nigerian counterparts.

"The Nigerians and U.S. military members were very eager to partner up to improve their Air Force, and specifically their C-130s and training aircraft," Colonel Mackenzie said. "The U.S. crew flew to the depot facility in Lisbon, Portugal, and went over the process to reintegrate the aircraft back in Nigeria's hands after being gone for more than a year."

The process, he explained, included $9.2 million of periodic depot maintenance, engine overhauls, propeller overhauls, and cockpit and avionics refurbishments. U.S. Air Force members provided the Nigerians a breakdown of what went on during the maintenance process and how to maintain the aircraft afterward. This included upcoming maintenance requirements, preventative maintenance and scheduling, and bookkeeping.

"We're just helping them out with the whole acceptance of an aircraft from PDM, and then how to maintain it once they get home," said Lt. Col. John Sapp, 118th ANG Stand Evaluations pilot. "We also showed them how to go through a [Functional Check Flight] to make sure that everything is working properly."

U.S. military C-130s go through an extensive PDM process every five years, and with the Nigerians becoming well versed with the practice for their own aircraft, the West African nation gained valuable experience for future PDM deliveries, Colonel Mackenzie explained. Ultimately, a healthy, well-maintained C-130 fleet means increased capacity for Nigeria to take part in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian relief and increased security.

"Both sides learned a great deal through this partnership which will help make the following three PDM efforts smoother, more productive and hopefully quicker," he said. "As a result of this effort, 17th AF and US Africa Command will move forward with plans to help continue the partnership and ensure the Nigerians are able to logistically support their fleet in the years to come."