The U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron’s new C-130J ‘Fat Albert’ aircraft arrived at the squadron’s homebase of Naval Air Station Pensacola on August 17.
The aircraft arrived at the base alongside a Blue Angels delta formation consisting of six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
This year marks the team’s 50th year utilizing the C-130 as its lead logistics aircraft. The Blue Angels’ previous C-130 “T” model served the team for 17 years and was retired in May of 2019.
The C-130J aircraft, purchased from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) in June 2019, underwent a year-long refresh, which turned a former Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft into the logistics and transport aircraft that will be used by the Blue Angels.
The U.S. Navy’s Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) and UK MoD co-managed the refurbishment with all efforts performed at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (ADG) in Cambridge, England.
This is the sole C-130J in the Navy’s fleet and while it is almost identical to its sister aircraft, the KC-130J, currently flown by the U.S. Marine Corps, it required a collaborative effort between NAVAIR engineering and Lockheed Martin to identify configuration deltas and test requirements. These efforts were done to meet U.S. and FAA requirements and included a major rework inspection, hardware and software configuration changes, and ground and flight testing.
The aircraft, now bearing the distinctive Blue Angels Blue and Gold, will be sure to thrill air show attendees for years to come.