In mid-September UK-based Marshall Aerospace completed the next step in its US expansion with a ground-breaking ceremony for a new C-130 tactical transport maintenance facility in Greensboro, North Carolina.

According to a Marshall Aerospace release on 15 September the new US site, initially announced in April 2023, will enable the company to grow its global footprint and meet “high demand for in-country maintenance, repair, overhaul and engineering support for US-based fleets of Hercules C-130 tactical transport aircraft”.

The first phase of development will entail construction of a single hangar comprising six bays for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul and one additional paint bay, with start of operations planned for early 2025. Marshall Aerospace’s operations in the US will be led by Ken Loy, who was recently appointed president of Marshall USA, having also worked for C-130 platform manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

It is understood that the move to expand into the US and the creation of a US-based maintenance hub could offer additional opportunities for Marshall Aerospace in the C-130 maintenance sector, with the North American region operating the majority of the aircraft still in operational service.

In 2020 the company won a ten-year contract with the US Marine Corps to provide depot-level maintenance to its 66-strong fleet of KC-130J tanker aircraft deployed worldwide. Marshalls currently services the fleets of around 18 separate C-130 operators from its Cambridge, UK, site.

However, Marshall Aerospace will shift its current UK HQ from Cambridge to Cranfield University site in Bedfordshire, along with the aerospace MRO segment of the business. Crucial for Marshall is the ability for customers to fly in their C-130 transporters to begin planned sustainment cycles, and with the impending closure of Cambridge Airport, the company has had to seek a new UK operational base.

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Marshall Group, which incorporates land programmes as well as engineering training units, will maintain a presence at Cambridge for business areas that do not require immediate runway access, including the manufacture of auxiliary fuel tanks for the Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.

The business is progressing with major expansion and relocation plans in the UK, Marshall Group received outline planning approval of its new Cranfield HW, earlier this month. In May, the business also down-selected Abbotsford, British Columbia as its preferred location for its proposed new aircraft maintenance facility in Canada.

The C-130 tactical transporter has been a workhorse for many militaries around the world, demonstrating significant success in Nato countries which value its ability to operate from unprepared landing strips for role such as civilian evacuations and special forces operations.

UK Royal Air Force C-130Js were involved in the recent evacuations from Sudan earlier this year, as well as the Kabul Airlift in 2021 when the Taliban seized control over Afghanistan.

However, the C-130J will retire from UK service this year, with the 14-strong fleet’s transport capacity being absorbed by the 22 A400M Atlas strategic airlifters.