KC-130J Super Hercules
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: Battle Herks, Harvest Hawk and Super Hercules
Origin: United States of America
Parent System: C-130 Hercules
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
23 August 1954
Family Members: AC-130J Ghostrider
, AC-130U Spooky
, C-130H Hercules
, C-130J Super Hercules
, CC-130J Super Hercules
, EC-130J Commando Solo
, MC-130H Talon II
, MC-130J Commando II
, MC-130W Combat Spear
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Description: The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules is a medium-size transport aircraft designed to operate from rough dirt strips. The first prototype, the YC-130A, maiden flight took place in 1954. The first model C-130A achieved initial operational capability in December1956 becoming thereafter the most important cargo transport aircraft of the free world. Since then, the C-130s had assumed a wide range of military tasks such as airlift, airdrop, reconnaissance, special operations, close air support, electronic warfare, air refueling, etc. The C-130 features an aft loading ramp and door and is able to accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six- to eight-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. The Hercules can be configured to carry out different missions and re-configured to its original cargo transport mission.
To date, more than 2,400 C-130s in more than 70 variants to five basic models (A, B , E, H and J) have been produced for customers worldwide. In the first decade of 21st century the majority of C-130s in service belong to the E, H and J basic models introduced in the early 1960s, in the 1970s and late 1990s respectively. The US Air Force, Navy and Marines operate the C-130 aircraft as well as the air forces of 66+ other nations worldwide. The US Air Force plans to convert the surviving E and H models to the C-130AMP (Avionics Modernization Program) configuration beginning in 2007. AMP covers avionics modernization and some engine improvements to keep the fleet flying and serviceable well beyond 2020.
The KC-130J is an air tanker aircraft derived from the shorter fuselage C-130J cargo aircraft. It provides in-flight refueling for both tactical aircraft and helicopters and can refuel two aircraft simultaneously. They have a 57,500 pound (8,455 US gallons) fuel offload capability while being flown on a 500 nm (900 km) radius mission. The KC-130J is also configured to accept a fuselage tank, which adds another 24,392 pounds (3,600 US gallons) of available offload to a mission. The USMC plans to purchase up to 79 KC-130J for the replacement of current KC-130F/R/T tankers. According to some sources the total number of KC-130J required by the USMC could be as high as 107 to provide in-flight refueling services to MV-22 and F-35 aircraft fleets well into the 21st century.
In late April 2004, following the KC-130J operational testing program carried out between October 2003 and January 2003, the USMC officials recommended full fleet introduction of KC-130J tanker aircraft. During the testing the new tanker aircraft outperformed KC-130T while demonstrating increased capabilities over legacy KC-130s. The US Marine Corps exercised an option for a second KC-130J Weapons System Trainer (WST) on February 2, 2005, as part of a contract worth $73 million signed in 2004. The USMC retained an option on a third KC-130J WST. As of early 2005, Marines had 33 KC-130J tanker aircraft on order with 15 tankers delivered at that time.
The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana) began C-130J procurement in 1997 with an order for 18 aircraft, two more aircraft were ordered in 1999 and two more in 2000 totaling 22 C-130J Super Hercules. These aircraft replaced aging C-130Hs operated by Italy. Six of the 12 short fuselage C1-30Js were modified to KC-130J tanker aircraft adding a capability the Italian Air Force has not had previously.
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