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Museum Parts Raise Political Ruckus

C-130B on display at Trenton, minus some inertial navigation units.

C-130B on display at Trenton, minus some inertial navigation units.

The federal government found itself in the odd position of defending a decision to raid a museum for parts to keep one of its search and rescue aircraft in the air.

The Ottawa Citizen ran a story earlier this week about some enterprising techs at CFB Trenton who took two working inertial navigation units out of a retired B model C-130 Hercules on display at the National Air Force Museum at Trenton. The INS in the B models is the same as those as the one that broke in an H model. The swap was successful and the newer Herc was returned to service.

The newspaper got hold of Defence Minister Rob Nicholson’s office for comment and was told that the techs “took initiative” to locate the spares.

Museum officials said that while classified equipment is always removed from aircraft that go to the museum, they’re mostly intact. They suggested the spare parts acquisition wasn’t a normal occurrence.

On the opening day of the new session of Parliament on Monday, NDP defence critic Jack Harris took a shot at Nicholson essentially asking if museums were to become a regular parts source for active aircraft. Nicholson at first called the museum scavenging a “mistake” and later his office clarified that the mistake happened when the serviceable parts weren’t stripped from the Herc before it went to the museum.

Harris also used the episode to raise the long-delayed procurement of replacement search and rescue aircraft.

 

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