U.S. Navy Blue Angels Get New “Fat Albert”

C-130T "Fat Albert" executing a rocket-assisted takeoff (RATO) from Ellington Field, Texas, during Wings Over Houston Airshow 2009. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The recently retired C-130T will be replaced by a surplus C-130J from the UK

On June 24, 2019 NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) announced that the acquisition of a new “Fat Albert”, the Blue Angels’ logistics cargo plane, has been approved on June 13. The iconic C-130T is being replaced by a C-130J Super Hercules, which will be delivered in spring 2020 following a $29.7 million contract awarded to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence.

The new” C-130J is actually a divested UK aircraft and was chosen because of the major cost savings. According to the statement provided by NAVAIR “cost savings associated with acquisition of the used aircraft and other airworthiness requirements is approximately $50 million less than the cost of a new aircraft.”

The acquisition of the surplus aircraft from the United Kingdom was due to “high operational tempo and current in demand nature of Navy assets” that prevented the Navy from just taking the replacement aircraft from the fleet.

Fat Albert, the C-130 Hercules assigned to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, flies over San Francisco in preparation for an air show scheduled during San Francisco Fleet Week 2011. San Francisco Fleet Week is a five-day event that highlights the equipment, technology and operational capabilities of the military’s sea services and their history in the San Francisco area. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Johnson/Released)

The former C-130T Fat Albert (BUNO 164763) has been with the Blue Angels since 2002 and was retired in May 2019, after flying more than 30,000 hours in support of the team. One of the main highlights that made Fat Albert famous was the jet-assisted takeoff performed during air shows until 2009, when the last JATO bottle stocks ran out.

The Blue Angels will continue flying Navy or Marine Corps C-130s wearing the standard grey paint scheme, nicknamed “Ernie” by the team, until the replacement aircraft is complete.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.