The Nigerian Air Force will soon take delivery of a refurbished C-130 Hercules transport aircraft after it underwent more than two years of maintenance work in the United Kingdom.
C-130H-30 NAF918 made its second flight from Cambridge Airport in the UK on May 15 after a two and a half year rebuild by specialist company Marshall Aerospace.
Air Forces Daily reported that the aircraft has finished its overhaul and rebuild. It underwent ground runs in early April and was re-flown on April 16, with a second flight on May 15.
The aircraft arrived in the UK on August 27, 2011, for maintenance that was estimated to take around four months, but in the end the aircraft was extensively rebuilt.
The 221 Wing C-130 had been grounded and in open storage at Lagos International Airport/Ikeja-Sam Ethan Air Base for years before the US Government assisted in getting the C-130 fleet flying again. NAF918 was subsequently made airworthy and ferried to Cambridge two years ago.
However, it had to be escorted by French and UK air force aircraft on its flight to the UK after its radio failed. However, the pilot changed his transponder code, alerting French authorities to the problem. French aircraft were dispatched to escort the C-130 across the English Channel. Once across, two Royal Air Force Typhoons escorted the transport to Cambridge Airport. The jets circled Cambridge airport before returning to Lincolnshire. Upon landing, police were waiting for the crew, who were interviewed by immigration officials before being cleared for entry.
The Nigerian Air Force aims to refurbish five of its eight surviving C-130Hs. The Nigerian C-130 fleet is more than three decades old and by 2009 only one example was flying. Nigeria originally received six C-130s three decades ago and another three C-130H-30s a decade later, but one C-130 crashed on September 29, 1992, killing at least 160 people, including many senior military personnel.
In September last year the Nigerian Air Force received a refurbished C-130 which was refurbished with the assistance of French aviation company Sabena Technics. In-country depot maintenance is done by the Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited (AETSL), a subsidiary of the Nigerian Air Force Holdings Company.