SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Scott Air Force Base is celebrating 35 years of C-21 operations this year and highlighting this achievement is a major avionics upgrade to the fleet.
One by one, Scott’s 10 C-21s are flying to Wichita, Kansas, to receive new avionics and communications suites that will expand the aircraft’s reach, effectiveness, and capability.
Additionally, four more C-21s from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, will receive the upgrades and then be reassigned to Scott later this summer as part of an Air Force consolidation effort.
Led by Maj. Taylor Todd, 375th Operations Group, the avionics upgrade cadre team consists of eight C-21 pilots who have tested, evaluated, and designed a new cockpit layout.
“There are some major upgrades being made during this modification process,” said Todd. “The first is a new weather radar that will significantly increase the situational awareness of the aircrew and provide a more reliable output of weather information to use during flight. New communication equipment enables aircrew and air traffic control to better relay real-time aircraft parameters.”
These upgrades come in time to meet with the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2020 mandate to keep increasingly congested airspace safe.
The new aircraft was deemed airworthy by the FAA and Air Mobility Command on July 31, 2018, after testing was successfully completed. The first class of four pilots have also concluded training on the new AUP configuration, with 11 more currently enrolled in the certification program.
“Having the training here allowed our C-21 maintenance personnel to have access to the new aircraft as well,” said Todd. “And, we have some of our most experienced C-21 pilots available to help train each class.”
Lt. Col. Brooke Matson, 458th AS commander, added, “We’re at a transition point in executive airlift history with consolidation and fleet modernization. It’s a phenomenal time to witness those initiatives in progress at the squadron level – the heartbeat of the Air Force.”
The C-21 is primarily used to transport senior service officials, but can also transport one litter or five ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations.
The 458th AS originally stood up as the 458th Bombardment Squadron in 1942 and was re-designated after WWII. While maintaining responsibility for multiple detachments, the 458th AS transitioned from the CT-39 aircraft to the C-21 in 1984.