USMC’s Harvest HAWK+ achieves full operational capability

US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has revealed that the US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit Plus (HAWK+)-configured Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules has achieved full operational capability (FOC).

NAVAIR announced that the Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) KC-130J integrated product team had completed the milestone on September 20. It added that the tenth and final modified aircraft was delivered to the USMC’s Fleet Marine Forces on August 26.

USMC KC-130J Harvest HAWK+ [USMC/Cpl Paige C Stade]
The USMC received its tenth and final Harvest HAWK+-configured Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules on August 26, 2021. USMC/Cpl Paige C Stade

The Harvest HAWK+ modifications come as part of the USMC’s KC-130J Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Weapons Mission Kit programme, which began in 2015. During the project, the USMC’s existing KC-130J Harvest HAWK system was enhanced by the integration of L3Harris’ WESCAM MX-20 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) multi-sensor imaging system. The platform also received a door-mounted missile employment capability.

Modification work pertaining to the Harvest HAWK+ configuration began after the first aircraft was delivered to NAVAIR’s Aircraft Prototype Systems division at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, in October 2015. The first six KC-130Js were modified here, while the remaining four were completed by Sierra Nevada Corporation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Capt Steve Nassau, the PMA-207 program manager, said: “We are proud to provide the Marine Air-Ground Task Force with an updated intra-theatre close air support and multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance capability. I couldn’t be prouder of my government and contractor team for delivering this critical weapon system to our warfighters.”

The ten Harvest HAWK+-configured KC-130Js are being operated from three different locations across the continental US. Five examples have been delivered to the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) ‘Raiders’ at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar in California, while another four aircraft have been handed over to VMGR-252 ‘Otis’ in MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. The remaining example will remain in Patuxent River under the US Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) ‘Force’ for future Block 8.1 and Harvest Hawk+ testing purposes.