The US Air Force (USAF) announced on November 25 that it has selected four air bases as its preferred locations for basing future Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules tactical transports.
Louisville Air National Guard Base (ANGB), Kentucky; McLaughlin ANGB, West Virginia; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) Fort Worth, Texas; and Savannah ANGB, Georgia, were selected as preferred locations to receive the C-130J. Pending the outcome of environmental assessments, the new tactical transports will replace the ageing Lockheed C-130H Hercules airlifters that currently operate from these bases. From 2021, eight C-130Js will be delivered to each location in Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas, while Georgia will receive new aircraft if they become available in the future.
In its announcement, the USAF said: “The air force evaluated all C-130J candidate locations against objective criteria based on mission requirements. The preferred alternatives were the highest scoring locations based on that criteria.”
The service boasts that the C-130J features a number of “major system improvements” when compared to older variants of the famed Hercules family. This includes an advanced two-pilot flight station with digital avionics, colour multifunctional liquid crystal and head-up displays, and a dual inertial navigation system. The C-130J also features a fully integrated defensive system, low-power colour radar, new Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines with six-bladed all-composite propellers and a digital autopilot.
It also boasts improved environmental, fuel, ice-protection and enhanced cargo handling systems. “The C-130J reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models. Compared to older C-130s, the ‘J’ model climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance,” the service added.