A pair of US Air Force (USAF)-operated Lockheed C-130H Hercules tactical transports are being transferred to the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh, Chilean Air Force) to supplement the air arm’s current airlift fleet.
The first aircraft – serial 74-1674 (c/n 382-4631) – arrived at Base Aérea El Bosque (El Bosque Air Base) in Santiago, Chile, on April 22. It landed at the Chilean base still wearing the full markings of its previous operator – the Montana Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 120th Airlift Wing (AW)/186th Airlift Squadron (AS) ‘Vigilantes’. This unit was based at Great Falls Air National Guard Base (ANGB), which is an extension of Great Falls International Airport in Montana.
Prior to joining the Montana ANG, this particular C-130H was operated by the Ohio ANG’s 179th AW/164th AS from Mansfield ANGB. The aircraft was known as the ‘Spirit of Mansfield’ during its time in Ohio. However, for much of its service life before this, the tactical transport was employed by the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and was a regular visitor to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, UK.
The delivery of 74-1674 to Chile also came with a cargo load of donated relief supplies to support Chilean efforts against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This comprised 87,000 items of personal protection items. In FACh service, this aircraft will be re-registered as serial 993, which was previously worn by a long-since retired C-130B.
The two C-130Hs are being supplied to Chile free-of-charge by the US government through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme. Authorisation for the supply of the two tactical transports as an EDA was granted on May 3, 2019. The second aircraft will be delivered to Chile in the coming months.
AirForces Intelligence data states that these two recently-donated C-130Hs will join six other examples of the Hercules family in FACh service. The air arm already operates one C-130B, two C-130Hs and three KC-130Rs. All six (soon to be eight) are operated by Grupo de Aviación No 10 (Aviation Group 10) at Base Aérea Pudahuel (Pudahuel Air Base), which is a part of Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago.
The C-130 boasts a long history of supporting Chilean military operations both at home and abroad. The nation first inducted two new-build C-130Hs into operational service in May 1972. In September 1991, the FACh accepted four ex-USAF C-130Bs, three of which have since been withdrawn from service with one being kept in storage and the other two being offered for sale on the second-hand market.
More recently – in April 2015 – the FACh received four surplus KC-130R tactical tanker-transports from the US Navy. However, one aircraft was lost to attrition on December 9, 2019, while transiting to Antarctica with 38 passengers and crew members on board.