AFRC receives first Combat King II

Lockheed Martin has delivered a first HC-130J Combat King II for the US Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) to Patrick Air Force Base (AFB), Florida.

The aircraft – serial 17-5892 – departed the company’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, and was delivered to Patrick AFB on April 2, where it will be operated by the 39th Rescue Squadron (RQS), a part of the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW). The HC-130J is the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in service with the USAF, AFRC and Air National Guard (ANG).

First AFRC HC-130J [Mandie Harwell via USAF] #1
The AFRC's first HC-130J underwent test flights in February. Mandie Harwell via USAF

The unit has a long-time connection with the Combat King, having employed the HC-130P/N in a combat search and rescue (CSAR) role since the 1960s. The squadron helped save more than 3,000 lives with the platform. The 39th RQS holds the distinction of being the only HC-130J in the AFRC and uses the motto: “That Others May Live”, reflecting the unit’s CSAR mission.

Along with CSAR, HC-130s are also able to perform helicopter air-to-air refuelling, airdrops, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, along with emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation missions.

First AFRC HC-130J [USAF/TSgt Kelly Goonan] #1
The 39th RQS' first HC-130J arrived at Patrick AFB on April 2. The unit will have the unique distinction of being the sole Combat King II operator in the AFRC. USAF/TSgt Kelly Goonan

Rob McLean, vice president and general manager of Air Mobility and Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin, said: “From supporting humanitarian relief efforts on the Florida coast to making combat rescues in Southeast Asia, the 920th’s HC-130s have exemplified the reputation of being tried and true workhorses for 60 years… As we salute one fleet for a lifetime’s worth of work, we are also excited to commemorate a new era with the arrival of the [AFRC’s] first HC-130J Combat King II. This [aircraft] provides the citizen airmen with increased power, capability and performance to continue to support critical missions close to home and around the world.”

In comparison with the older legacy platforms, the HC-130J offers more performance and capabilities advancements, it is more fuel efficient and has an improved payload/range tolerance. It also features a new, integrated defensive suite, automated maintenance fault reporting, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, and modern digital avionics with dual head-up displays (HUDs), providing increased situational awareness.