130th Airlift Wing set for C-130J-30 conversion

The 130th Airlift Wing (AW) ‘Mountaineers’ at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in Charleston, West Virginia, is set to convert to the Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules, with deliveries scheduled to begin later this summer.

Confirmation of the 130th AW’s conversion to the newer C-130J-30 model was announced on May 19 by the Acting Secretary of the Air Force, John P Roth. A component of the West Virginia Air National Guard (ANG), the ‘Mountaineers’ currently operate a matured fleet of eight Lockheed C-130H Hercules tactical transports, which are more than 25 years old.

USAF C-130J-30 over Yokota AB, Japan [USAF/Yasuo Osakabe]
A US Air Force (USAF)-operated Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules from the 36th Airlift Squadron 'Eagle Airlifters' conducts a training mission over Yokota Air Base in Japan on February 19, 2021. USAF/Yasuo Osakabe 

The unit’s legacy Hercules will subsequently be sent to other US states that maintain a C-130 mission at a rate of approximately two-to-three aircraft per month. The ANG has yet to disclose when the first 130th AW-operated C-130Hs will depart McLaughlin ANGB, nor has it provided additional details on their proposed destinations. The first C-130J-30 is expected to be delivered to the ‘Mountaineers’ later this summer.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice responded to the announcement by highlighting the importance and excitement behind the upcoming milestone. He said: “Today’s announcement is incredibly exciting for the men and women of the 130th AW as they move forward with this conversion. Our National Guard is second to none, and these great airmen will do a wonderful job with this conversion process.”

Lockheed Martin’s C-130J-30 is the stretched variant of the company’s Super Hercules family. The heavy-lift tactical transport features a fuselage that is 15ft longer than the standard C-130J platform, allowing it to carry eight pallets/97 litters of cargo and/or 128 combat troops/92 paratroopers.

AirForces Intelligence data states the C-130J-30 is operational with 15 nations across the globe, comprising the air forces of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Norway, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tunisia, the UK and the US. The platform entered service with the US Air Force in 2001 and the air arm presently maintains a fleet of 125 aircraft.