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Military phasing out plane that crashed in favor of newer model

A Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules takes off from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, in 2014. Judges have upheld a lower court's ruling last year to award $8.4 million to a group of Okinawans who suffered over aircraft noise from Futenma.

COURTESY OF THE U.S. MARINE CORPS

By MICHAEL RANDALL | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: July 14, 2017

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) – The Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, which lost nine members in the crash Monday of a KC-130 transport plane, is one of two primary tenants on the military side of Stewart Airport.

The other is the 105th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard.

The plane that crashed in Mississippi was one of the Marine reserve unit's fleet of KC-130Ts.

The military is phasing out the planes in favor of a newer model, the KC-130J.

The New York Times reported this week that some experts say the KC-130T can be temperamental.

The Marine Corps' 2017 Aviation Plan says the transition to the KC-130J is already complete for active duty units, and the transition for reserve units began in fiscal year 2014.

The Stewart unit is not scheduled to begin the transition until the second quarter of fiscal 2019, but by fiscal year 2026, it will have a fleet of 12 KC-130Js, according to the report.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, said an investigation of the crash, which will examine the plane to see what went wrong, is just beginning, and he will "stay with it until we get to the bottom of it."

But he also said he will make sure the Stewart Marines get what they need to do their job.

"The men and women of our armed forces are risking their lives to protect our country, and they should feel confident knowing we have their back – and that we are investing in state-of-the-art equipment to keep them safe whether at home or serving overseas," Maloney said.

Added Sen. Chuck Schumer, "It's critical that we continue to invest in the readiness of those personnel (at Stewart) and the equipment they use every day."

In addition to performing refueling operations, as the unit's full name implies, the Stewart Marines provide training and other support for other Marine Corps units preparing for mobilization.

They are often used to transport personnel, equipment and supplies, as the plane that crashed on Monday was doing.

Various versions of the KC-130 have been a workhorse for the Marine Corps since 1960.

©2017 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
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