As the Air National Guard moves forward with its plans to replace aging C-130Hs with new C-130Js, it has decided where it wants to base its formal training unit for the new aircraft—Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.
The decision, announced by the Department of the Air Force on June 24, will result in four C-130Js being located at Little Rock to help Air Guard members “gain the experience and knowledge needed to operate the newer aircraft,” according to a DAF release.
The Air Force has conducted the site survey and environmental analysis necessary to make the final decision for Little Rock. Arkansas lawmakers indicated in May 2021 that military leadership had selected Little Rock as its preferred location, with final approval coming from Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.
Little Rock AFB’s selection is in many ways unsurprising. The base already hosts the 314th Airlift Wing, the nation’s tactical airlift “Center of Excellence” and the largest C-130 formal training unit in the Air Force. The 314th AW helps train C-130 crew members across the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, and 47 partner nations.
The 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, meanwhile, already has the C-130H Formal Training Unit.
All told, Little Rock has hosted C-130 Hercules training missions in some form or fashion for more than 50 years, resulting in its nickname of “Herk Nation.” Between the 314th AW, the 189th AW, and the 19th Airlift Wing, the base has dozens of C-130Hs and C-130Js.
While the Active-duty Air Force has almost completely transitioned away from the C-130H to the new C-130J Super Hercules, the Air National Guard is still very much in the midst of its changeover, with its number of H models still far exceeding the number of Js. The Guard previously announced four other locations that are getting the C-130J—Louisville Air National Guard Base, Ky.; McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, W.V.; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas; and Savannah Air National Guard Base, Ga.
Those first three locations have all taken delivery of their first C-130Js.