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U.S. Air Force tests first C-130 with Block 8.1 upgrades

By
Ryan Maass
With Block 8.1 upgrades, C-130 pilots have access to enhanced GPS information and communication systems. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Harry Brexel
With Block 8.1 upgrades, C-130 pilots have access to enhanced GPS information and communication systems. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Harry Brexel

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Air Force pilots recently completed a training flight with the first C-130J Super Hercules equipped with Block 8.1 upgrades.

With the upgrades, the pilots have access to enhanced GPS capabilities and improved communication systems. Friend-or-foe identification technology was also updated.

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According to the Air Force, the enhancements will help make pilots more effective in performing their missions as well as improve interoperability with other aircraft.

"This update will truly allow us to have unhindered global access," Capt. Kyle Gauthier said in a press release. "It will also provide pilots improved situational awareness, and a greater ability to communicate with command and control around the world."

Air Force officials say they will continue testing the upgraded airlifter over the next two years, and will collaborate with contractor Lockheed Martin to report any potential problems.

"Flying with such a new system can be difficult, but it is exciting to know you're shaping the future of C-130J operations worldwide," Gauthier added.

The Lockheed Martin-built C-130J Super Hercules is a four-turboprop military airlifter that can be adapted for defense and humanitarian applications. According to Lockheed Martin, the plane can also be used for special operations, aerial refueling and close air support.

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