Thailand has become the first international customer for the Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 upgrade, which will be applied to the Royal Thai Air Force’s C-130H Hercules fleet. The first phase of the program encompasses 20 engines from the overall RTAF fleet of 58, to be upgraded over the next three years.
The RTAF has selected U.S.-based Segers Aero Corporation—a Rolls-Royce Authorized Maintenance Center—to conduct the work, as well as provide training, tooling, technical support, capability development, and field service support in conjunction with the engine upgrade schedule. This upgrade can be performed during regular overhauls and has no effect on the aircraft or controls.
Series 3.5 allows the engine to operate at greatly reduced temperatures, extending parts life and improving reliability by 22 percent. In turn, this reduces operational maintenance costs and provides some fuel savings, contributing to an overall cost reduction of around 12 percent. Importantly, the upgrade will allow the RTAF Hercules fleet to serve until at least 2040.
The Series 3.5 update draws on advanced technologies from other Rolls-Royce engine programs. It has been applied to U.S. Air Force C-130Hs as part of a wider upgrade program that includes new propellers and revised flight deck/avionics. In addition, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has adopted the upgrade for its Lockheed WP-3D “hurricane hunter” Orions.