USAF selects new base locations for C-130J

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.

C-130J [USAF/Airman Thomas S Keisler IV]
A USAF-operated Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules departs Aviano Air Base, Italy, on December 11, 2019. USAF/Airman Thomas S Keisler IV

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.