-- The Naval Air Force Reserve has grounded its fleet of 23 C-130T transport aircraft until further notice amid the ongoing investigation into the deadly July 10 crash of a KC-130T in Mississippi that killed 16 service members.
“During the course of an ongoing safety investigation into the tragic Marine Corps mishap in Mississippi involving a KC-130T, an airframe similar to what is flown by our Navy Reserve, the Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve has directed an operational pause for their similar C-130 Fleet," said Lt. Russell Chilcoat, a spokesman for Navy Reserve Forces Command. "While operational lift requirements are understood, it is prudent to allow time for the investigation to provide more information on possible causal factors prior to resuming flight.
“All ... C-130T aircraft are on operational pause with no timeline in an effort to allow the investigation to provide more information on possible causal factors prior to resuming flight," added Chilcoat. "The ongoing investigation will be thorough and take time. We do not have any scheduled updates at this time.”
The Navy’s fleet of aircraft includes the C-130T known as “Fat Albert” that is part of the Navy’s Blue Angels precision air team, which will not fly at an air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, this weekend.
“Unfortunately, Fat Albert was unable to join us for the show in Oshkosh this weekend,” said Lt. Joe Hontz, a spokesman for the Blue Angels.
"During the course of the ongoing Marine Corps KC-130T investigation, an airframe similar to Fat Albert, we determined it may be prudent to allow time for the investigation to provide more information on possible causal factors prior to resuming flight," Hontz said in a statement. “There is no timeframe for Fat Albert’s return.”
On Thursday, the Marine Corps Reserves grounded its fleet of 12 KC-130T transport aircraft, the same type of plane that was involved in the deadly July 10 crash in Mississippi that killed 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman.
The cause of that crash remains under investigation, but Marine officials had said shortly afterward that it appeared that something occurred to the aircraft while it was at cruising altitude.
“Out of an abundance of caution the Marine Corps took the prudent action not to fly KC-130Ts in the wake of the mishap on July 10 until further notice,” said Second Lt. Stephanie Leguizamon, a Marine Corps Reserve spokesperson.
The 12 KC-130Ts in the Marine Corps Reserve all belong to VMGR-452, the same unit based in Orange County, New York, that the aircraft that crashed in Mississippi belonged to.
The grounding was ordered by Brig. Gen. Bradley James, the commander of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.
Shortly after the July 10 crash, James said at a news conference that something had occurred to the KC-130 aircraft in mid-flight.
"Indications are, something went wrong at cruise altitude," James said at a news conference on July 12.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the number of planes grounded by the Naval Air Force Reserve.