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VRC-40 Rawhides
 
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VRC-40 - United States Navy

Fleet Logistics Support Squadron FOUR ZERO [VRC-40] "Rawhides"

Stuart Freer was given the privilege to visit VRC-40 at its home, Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia, on the East Coast of the United States.

The C-2 Greyhound is a derivative of the E-2 Hawkeye and replaced the piston-engined C-1 Trader in the Carrier Onboard Delivery role. The C-2 shares wings and power plants with the E-2 Hawkeye, but has a widened fuselage with a rear loading ramp. The first of two prototypes flew in 1964 and production began the following year. The original C-2A aircraft were overhauled to extend their operational life in 1973.

In 1984, a contract was awarded for 39 new C-2A aircraft to replace older airframes. Dubbed the Reprocured C-2A (C-2A(R)) due to the similarity to the original, the new aircraft includes substantial improvements in airframe and avionic systems. All the older C-2As were phased out in 1987, and the last of the new models was delivered in 1990.

When you think of the flying units of the US Navy the attack & fighter squadrons will probably come to mind, but one squadron that rarely gets a mention is Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Four Zero (VRC-40) who play a very important role in the US Navy. The squadron provides Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) services to the Navy’s Atlantic & Sixth Fleets.

VRC-40 was the first VRC squadron in the Navy, it was established on the 1st July 1960. After flying the C-1A ‘Trader’ aircraft for over twenty six years, the squadron completed a transition to the C-2A ‘Greyhound’ towards the end of 1986.

VRC-40 is one of only two COD units within the Navy the other being VRC-30 based at Naval Air Station North Island. VRC-40 operate twelve aircraft within the Squadron, but unlike other units that deploy as an entire squadron, when VRC-40 deploys its Greyhounds aboard a US Navy Aircraft Carrier, it sends two aircraft, known as a ‘Detachment’. Once the Carrier is on location in the main theatre of operations, the C-2 will deploy to a Forward Operating Location (FOL) at a land based airfield.

 
C-2A Greyhound - 162145/53 - VRC-40 - United States Navy   C-2A Greyhound - 162145/53 - VRC-40 - United States Navy   C-2A Greyhound - 162145/53 - VRC-40 - United States Navy   C-2A Greyhound - 162160/50 - VRC-40 - United States Navy
 

Maintaining and flying the unit’s aircraft at Norfolk are nearly 300 enlisted personnel and officers. Every year, VRC-40 carries over three million pounds of mail and cargo and make over one thousand arrested landings.

The C-2A Greyhound is capable of carrying a mix of 10,000 pounds of cargo & passengers. Powered by two T-6 turboprop engines, the aircraft can accommodate up to 26 passengers or up to 20 patients.

The Greyhound is capable of not just delivering the mail but also carrying jet engines & dropping Special Forces. A cargo cage system provides restraint for loads during launches and landings. The large cargo door allow straight in rear cargo loading and unloading for fast turnaround. This, plus its folding wings and on board auxiliary power unit for engine starting provide an operational versatility found in no other cargo aircraft.

The future for the C-2 Greyhound is that the fleet is currently undergoing a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) to increase the aircrafts service life from 15,000 landings and 10,000 flight hours to 36,000 landings and 15,000 flight hours. The changes being incorporated are; structural enhancements, aircraft re-wire, avionics systems improvements and a new propeller system NP2000 which is now being introduced to the E-2 Hawkeye fleet. These updates to the fleet emphasize the ever increasing role the C-2A and VRC-40 play in supporting the future of the US Navy.

The first upgraded C-2A(R) left NAVAIR Depot North Island on September 12, 2005, after sitting on the ground for three and a half years while the SLEP was developed and installed. A second airframe is currently nearing completion and it is anticipated that the remaining 34 aircraft will all undergo the SLEP upgrade within the next five years as operations and schedule permit.

The author would like to thank the US Navy and all staff at VRC-40 for there help and co-operation in preparing this article, especially to the squadrons PAO.

VRC-40 - United States Navy
 
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