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Job losses expected at Marshall ADG in Cambridge after MoD ditches Hercules C-130J fleet



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Job losses are expected at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge after the government announced that it would retire the RAF’s 14-strong Hercules C-130J aircraft by 2023.

The Cambridge-based company admitted the decision in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) review was a blow and it had not expected such little notice.

C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft from the Royal Air Force, pictured at Duxford
C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft from the Royal Air Force, pictured at Duxford

It described the RAF contract as the “bedrock” of its C-130 operation, which also includes maintaining Hercules aircraft for 17 other air forces around the globe.

While it could not put a figure on the number of roles that could go, Marshall ADG did say it was “confident” it could work with the RAF on the resale of the Hercules aircraft to “reduce the risk of significant job losses”.

Gary Moynehan, CEO of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group
Gary Moynehan, CEO of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group

Chief executive officer Gary Moynehan said: “We have been anticipating that the MoD would bring forward the out of service date for the C-130 fleet however we had not expected such a short timeframe.

“There is no getting away from the fact that withdrawal by 2023 is disappointing news for Marshall, whilst we have enjoyed significant growth in our international C-130 business over recent years, our partnership with the RAF has remained the bedrock of our C-130 operation.

An RAF C-130J leaves Marshall ADG after the completion of centre wing replacement
An RAF C-130J leaves Marshall ADG after the completion of centre wing replacement

“It is still too early for us to be able to assess the full impact this decision will have on our operations at Cambridge and Brize Norton but we will do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible but unfortunately we also have to be realistic at a time when the aviation industry is already under enormous pressure.

“However, in line with the Prime Minister’s commitment in the Integrated Review to prioritising UK industrial capability, we expect to support the RAF in the successful resale of the C-130 fleet in order to maximise return for the UK economy and in turn reduce the risk of significant job losses within MADG.

“As we have for the last 50-plus years, we will work in partnership with the MoD to manage the withdrawal as effectively as possible given the timescales. Our teams have been justly proud to support 47, 206 and XXIV Squadrons over so many years and will be incredibly sad to see that come to an end.

C-130J aircraft used by the Danish and Norwegian armed forces
C-130J aircraft used by the Danish and Norwegian armed forces

“At the same time, we do remain confident that our C-130 MRO business can continue to grow, we have 17 long -term international customers and are continuing to win more contracts with overseas operators who recognise the unique capability of the platform.”

The RAF has used its C-130-J fleet for transport for 24 years. They have often been used for special forces operations in Iraq and Syria.

In 2015, a defence review said they would fly on until 2030, but defence secretary Ben Wallace has now announced they will leave service in two years’ time, with 22 A400Ms, alongside C17s, providing “a more capable and flexible transport fleet”.

The US Marine Corps KC-130J at Cambridge Airport for routine maintenance by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group. Picture: MADG
The US Marine Corps KC-130J at Cambridge Airport for routine maintenance by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group. Picture: MADG

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said: "This is bad news for Marshall and for Cambridge, and another poor decision by the government.

“Sadly, it seems likely that high-skilled job losses will follow. It is the wrong decision. Other countries such as France are still buying the Hercules, recognising its special capabilities which the A400M has yet to prove.

“The Ministry of Defence has a poor procurement record, and this is another mistake - they should think again.”

Marshall ADG employs more than 1,600 people in Cambridge, Brize Norton, North Yorkshire, the Nertherlands, United Arab Emirates and Canada.

The Blue Angels C-130 pilots with the new Fat Albert at Marshall in Cambridge
The Blue Angels C-130 pilots with the new Fat Albert at Marshall in Cambridge

The company won a 10-year enablement contract last year with the US Marine Corps to deliver scheduled and unscheduled maintenance across its 66-strong fleet of KC130J aircraft.

And in December, it announced that it had won a seven-year contract to maintain eight C-130s for the Norwegian Defence Logistic Organisation and the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics.

An Austrian C130K at Marshall ADG. Picture: Marshall ADG
An Austrian C130K at Marshall ADG. Picture: Marshall ADG

Marshall ADG is due to leave Cambridge by the end of the decade. It has an option agreement with Cranfield University’s Air Park in Bedfordshire for its new home, although it has yet to rule out RAF Wyton - its one remaining alternative.


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Marshall ADG gives US Navy’s new Fat Albert its new livery

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group may leave Cambridgeshire as it signs agreement with Cranfield University’s Air Park

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