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. In October 2019 Lockhed delivered the 2,600th C-130 aircraft.
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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