US-based company Kellstrom Defence Aerospace and South Africa’s Astra Aircraft Corporation have been awarded a contract to support the South African Air Force’s C-130BZ transport aircraft.
The five year contract was signed with contracting agency Armscor and was announced mid-July. Kellstrom will provide spare parts on an exclusive basis, and Astra Aircraft will provide in-country programme and customer relationship management services.
“This long term contract, coupled with our highly experienced resource pool and OEM [original equipment manufacturer] partnerships, brings Kellstrom Defense closer to being the global leader of C-130 aftermarket parts and repair services,” said Dean Brady, Kellstrom’s president of global distribution & supply chain. “We look forward to working with Astra Aircraft and supporting the SAAF C-130B fleet readiness.”
Kellstrom describes itself as a global provider of support for US manufactured legacy defence platforms, including fighters, transports, patrol aircraft and helicopters, and offers life extension, maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) and logistics solutions. The company supports platforms such as the F-5, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, C-130, P-3, Boeing 707, UH-1, H-60, CH-47 and MD500 in some 30 countries. The company is headquartered in Florida but has locations in the United Kingdom and Australia. Kellstrom is part of the Merex Group, which acquired Kellstrom Defence in 2014.
Astra Aircraft Corporation, incorporated in 1963, is based in Boksburg and says it supplies equipment to the local aviation industry. It has been awarded contracts supporting SAAF Sabre, Shackleton and C-130 aircraft, amongst others, over the years.
Other companies that have helped maintain or upgrade the South African Air Force’s nine C-130BZs include Denel Aviation, which is the only Lockheed Martin-licensed C-130 maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Africa, Tau Aerospace, Marshall Aerospace, and Thales. Marshall and Thales were instrumental in upgrading the avionics of the C-130BZs.
The SAAF is one of the world’s oldest C-130 operators, having flown the Hercules since 1963. At present the SAAF operates nine upgraded C-130BZs with 28 Squadron. Although the BZs are expected to serve until around 2020, it is possible that their service lives could be extended to 2030. Although the 2014 Defence Review calls for the replacement of the C-130BZ fleet, amongst other replacements such as maritime reconnaissance and light transport aircraft, there are no immediate plans to look at a successor. However, Lockheed Martin is offering its C-130J Super Hercules and Airbus its A400M to the South African Air Force.