Lockheed Martin has marked a key milestone in its C-130J Super Hercules programme after the company announced it had recently delivered its 500th example on March 15.
While the formal date of the delivery was not disclosed, Lockheed Martin noted that the 500th aircraft – C-130J-30 (serial 19-5934) – was recently handed over to the West Virginia Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 130th Airlift Wing at McLaughlin ANG Base in Charleston, West Virginia. The wing is a long-standing C-130 operator and is currently transitioning from the legacy Hercules to the more modern Super Hercules.
Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility and Maritime Missions division, said: “This delivery represents the thousands of people – past and present – that design, build, fly, maintain and support C-130Js around the world. Like its namesake, the C-130J is a legend defined by its strength and power. Yet, it is the people who are part of the C-130J operator, production, supplier and industry partner communities who truly define the Super Hercules and helped the C-130J programme reach this monumental achievement.”
The C-130J is the current and latest variant of the Hercules family of medium-lift tactical transports. It is 15ft (4.6m) longer than the legacy C-130 and is able to carry 30% more cargo and passengers. The Super Hercules boasts a 20% improvement in range when compared with its predecessor and is equipped with digital avionics and an integrated defensive suite.
A popular platform on the domestic and export market, versions of the C-130J have been purchased for use by 26 air arms by 22 different nations, including: Australia; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Canada; Denmark; France; Germany; India; Indonesia; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Kuwait; New Zealand; Norway; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Tunisia; the UK and the US. “The global C-130J fleet has surpassed more than two million flight hours and holds more than 54 world records,” Lockheed Martin added.
The US is the largest operator of the C-130J (and its subsequent variants) in the world, with the type being employed by all four branches of the US military – the US Air Force, US Coast Guard, US Marine Corps and US Navy. The US is currently working to transition all of its legacy C-130 units to the Super Hercules to enhance type commonality and interoperability across all four services.
The baseline C-130J airframe has been configured to carry out 17 different mission sets, including tactical transport; aerial refuelling; close air support/interdiction; medical evacuation; weather reconnaissance; aerial firefighting; humanitarian assistance/disaster relief; search and rescue; and psychological/communications jamming operations.