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Navy buys new Fat Albert for Blue Angels from British Royal Air Force

Video: Fat Albert takes flight at Blue Angels Homecoming show Pensacola News Journal

A new Fat Albert cargo plane is headed to the Pensacola-based U.S. Navy Blue Angels from the British Royal Air Force.

The U.S. Navy said Monday that it had awarded a $29.7 million contract to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence for a Royal Air Force C-130J Super Hercules.

In a news release, the Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command based in Patuxent River, Maryland, said purchasing the used British aircraft to replace Fat Albert as part of the world-famous flight demonstration would be about $50 million less than the cost of a new aircraft.

“This is a win-win for the U.S. Navy and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence,” said Capt. Steven Nassau of the Naval Air Systems Command in a news release.

“Just as the Navy recognized the imminent need to replace the Fat Albert aircraft, the UK MOD was divesting of an American made, C-130J; aircraft allowing us to acquire a suitable replacement aircraft at a major cost savings,” he said.

The release stated the aircraft will be delivered to the Blue Angels in the spring of 2020.

Lt. Cmdr. David Gardner, spokesman for the Blue Angels, did not immediately respond to request for comment about the news.

The Blue Angels announced in late May that the C-130 T known as Fat Albert, which had flown with the team for 17 years, had reached the end of its flying life after accumulating more than 30,000 flight hours.

The Navy had grounded its entire fleet of C-130s in July 2017 after a deadly crash in rural Mississippi that killed 15 Marines and one sailor. Fat Albert hadn’t performed since that grounding until the 2018 Pensacola Beach show.

Fat Albert is known for its high-speed, low-altitude maneuvers that mimic what Marine aviators need do in some combat situations.