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NEWS | May 6, 2024

Ecuador-Kentucky Guard partnership welcomes C-130 to Ecuadorian Air Force

By Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Ecuadorian Air Force welcomed a C-130H Hercules into its inventory here March 25 during a ceremony attended by leadership from the Kentucky Air National Guard, who were on hand to congratulate their State Partnership Program colleagues on the new capability.

The State Partnership Program is a cooperative military-to-military exchange effort administered by the National Guard Bureau that facilitates cooperation between U.S. National Guard units and foreign allies, fostering enhanced understanding across all aspects of civil and military affairs. The Kentucky National Guard has been partners with Ecuador since 1996.

“The arrival of this C-130H marks not only a tremendous increase to Ecuador’s air mobility capability, but also a tangible representation of the commitment of the United States to a very close partner in pursuit of the values of democracy and the dignity of human rights around the world,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. David Mounkes, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air.

“We look forward to a continued strong partnership with Ecuador in the years ahead. I am very honored, at a professional and personal level, to be a part of this momentous event today. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated organization of the caliber of the Ecuadorian military.”

Also in attendance were Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa; U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Michael Fitzpatrick; Ecuadorian Minister of Defense Giancarlo Loffred; Brig. Gen. Geovanny Espinel, commander of the Ecuadorian Air Force; and many other civilian and military officials.

1st Lt. Jason Sanderson, director of plans and requirements for the Kentucky Air National Guard, said Kentucky’s partnership with Ecuador is a good match, especially in the area of airlift.

“The fact that our partner nation is receiving a C-130H, and we have a flying wing that also flew the C-130H, means we have subject matter expertise,” Sanderson said. “One of the things I think we can help with, is using our experience from our scheduled maintenance programs and how to manage that along with a viable flying schedule.”

The C-130H was delivered by a private company from Portugal and is a retired U.S. Air Force aircraft built in 1974. This will be the first C-130 for Ecuador, which currently flies the L-100, a civilian variant. The aircraft was part of the DoD’s Excess Defense Articles program, which transfers unutilized equipment to foreign governments to help modernize partner forces.

Ecuador plans to deploy the aircraft for domestic operations and humanitarian assistance, including counter-narcotics, control of illegal fishing, troop drops, and resupply missions employing aerial delivery to remote jungle settings.

Ecuador has its own aircrew and maintenance training program, but it also partners with the Colombian Air Force for training. Some Ecuadorian Air Force maintenance officers have attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and the maintenance officer course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

“This donation is a demonstration of the deep collaboration between the governments of the United States and Ecuador, from security to economic affairs,” Fitzpatrick said. “But in particular, this plane is a gift to the Ecuadorian people from the American people to support their continued fight against narcotrafficking and criminal groups.”

The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing currently flies the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. It flew the C-130H Hercules from 1992 to 2021.

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