USMC ceases operations with legacy KC-130T fleet

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has finally concluded operations with the legacy Lockheed KC-130T Hercules tactical tanker-transport fleet after 60 years of service.

US Naval Air Systems Command announced that the USMC had divested itself of its final KC-130T on May 5. The last aircraft – BuNo 164105 ‘NY-105’ (c/n 382-5147) – was operated by the service’s Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 (VMGR-452) ‘Yankees’ from Stewart Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in New York. This unit falls under the command of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW)/Marine Aircraft Group 49 (MAG-49) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, and forms MAG-49 Detachment B at Stewart.

A USMC-operated KC-130T - BuNo 164105 ‘NY-105’ - operated by VMGR-452 ‘Yankees’ departs from Stewart ANGB, New York, on April 14 to join the US Navy’s VR-55 ‘Minutemen’ at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California. US Naval Air Systems Command

The final aircraft (164105) departed Stewart ANGB on April 14 to join the US Navy’s Fleet Logistic Support Squadron 55 (VR-55) ‘Minutemen’ at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California. VMGR-452 is now transitioning to the new Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules variant of tactical tanker-transport family, which is replacing the elderly KC-130Ts in operational service. Henceforth, USMC VMGR units will only fly the new KC-130J model.

In total, eight USMC KC-130Ts have already been retired and are in storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. A further seven aircraft (now eight following the divesture of 164105) have been transferred to US Navy Fleet Logistic Support Squadron.

Five more aircraft have been delivered to US Navy Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons. Of these five aircraft, one has become a ground instructional airframe, and another has been written-off. Additionally, two KC-130Ts were sold to the Philippine Air Force and were delivered to the Asian air arm in 2016.

AirForces Intelligence data confirms that the KC-130T variant of the Hercules family entered operational service with the USMC in 1983, with 26 examples being delivered to the air arm in total. The platform is the last of the legacy KC-130 variants to be retired from operational service, with the type having served the USMC since the introduction of the KC-130F in the early 1960s.

From September 2006, each KC-130T was upgraded to have the same defensive aids and night-vision goggles (NVG)-compatible lighting systems as the new KC-130J. However, on July 10, 2017, a USMC-operated KC-130T was lost to attrition – an incident which claimed the lives of all 16 personnel and passengers on board and resulted in a fleet-wide grounding. By mid-2018, necessary modifications had been made the aircraft and the type was being returned to operational service.