Check Out The Blue Angels' New Fat Albert C-130J In All Its Glory
The ex-Royal Air Force C-130J is presently in the United Kingdom undergoing final checks.
The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels have finally given us our first full look at the ex-Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules that will take on the role of Fat Albert. The flight demonstration team teased the arrival of this aircraft and its new paint scheme, which will replace the already retired C-130T that they had previously used as their squadron transport and in their performances, earlier this year.
The Blue Angels released the picture of their latest Fat Albert on their Facebook page on June 30, 2020. The aircraft is presently at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group's facility at Cambridge City Airport in the United Kingdom, where it is undergoing final fit checks.
"Over the next few weeks, team members will conduct a series of maintenance tests, which include an aircraft systems operational check out and a functional check flight, prior to completing the transatlantic flight to the United States," the accompanying Facebook post says. "#BAFans you will notice a couple changes to the paint scheme. The flight surfaces now have yellow tips, similar to our F/A-18s, 2 stripes run down the side of the aircraft and the iconic white top has been changed to a tear drop design."
Some of those changes had already been visible in the images that the Blue Angels had released of the aircraft back in March. In contrast to the scheme used on the previous C-130T, this aircraft's aircraft's paint scheme also has the name of the team written in gold lettering rather than blue and a pair of gold stripes in place of a single thicker one.
"This C-130J model will provide improved logistics support and eventually join the Blue Angels demonstration!" the Facebook post also notes. The team has been without a Fat Albert, which also serves as their dedicated transport from show to show, for more than a year now. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has also, unfortunately, severely curtailed their show season for this year, though they did take part in flyovers across the country in support of first responders, healthcare workers, and other individuals on the front lines that crisis.
The Navy formally acquired this ex-U.K. Royal Air Force C-130J as the Blue Angels next Fat Albert in 2019 at the cost of around $29.7 million. The U.K. Ministry of Defense had previously decided to retire all of the RAF's short-fuselage J models, which that service had designated Hercules C5s, based on the recommendations of the country's 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review. It has now revised that plan to retain one of the Hercules C5s through at least 2021. The RAF will also continue to fly 14 long-fuselage C-130J-30s, which it calls Hercules C4s.
It remains uncertain, especially given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, when the Blue Angels' latest Fat Albert will make its public debut. "Please note that our team is practicing social distancing and taking every precaution to maintain mission readiness. Stay safe!" the team's Facebook posted said.
Regardless, it's exciting to finally get a glimpse of the aircraft in its new paint scheme and hopefully it won't be too long before people get to see it up close.
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