The Lockheed Martin C-130 is the US Air Force’s principal tactical cargo and personnel transport aircraft. The C-130J Super Hercules is the latest model, featuring a glass cockpit, digital avionics and a new propulsion system with a six-bladed propeller.
The C-130 has been in continuous production since 1954, and Hercules aircraft are operational in over 70 countries. Lockheed Martin delivered the 2,600th C-130 Hercules aircraft to the US Air Force in October 2019.
C-130J transport aircraft upgrade
The improvements built into the C-130J, which entered production in 1997, have enhanced the performance of the aircraft in terms of its range, cruise ceiling time to climb, speed and airfield requirements.
A stretched version, the C-130J-30, has been developed and designated the CC-130J by the USAF. The first C-130J-30 for the UK RAF (the launch customer) was delivered in November 1999.
The C-130J entered active service with the USAF at Little Rock Air Force Base in April 2004 and was first deployed in December 2004.
The first of five C-130J Super Hercules aircraft intended for deployment at Little Rock left Lockheed Martin’s facility, for delivery to the base, in August 2013.
The first combat airdrop for the USAF was in July 2005. The US Air Mobility Command declared initial operating capability for the C-130J in October 2006.
The US Air Force awarded a $167m block upgrade contract to Lockheed Martin in December 2011 to overhaul the C-130J Super Hercules with Block 8.1 configuration.
The Block 8.1 configuration contains software and hardware capability expansion such as modernised identification friend or foe (IFF), automatic dependent surveillance broadcast, communication, navigation and air traffic management datalink.
Cockpit of the C-130J Hercules transport aircraft
C-130J is crewed by two pilots and a loadmaster. The new glass cockpit features four L-3 systems with multifunction liquid crystal displays for flight control and navigation systems.
Each pilot has a Flight Dynamics head-up display (HUD). Supplied by BAE Systems IEWS, the dual mission computers, operate and monitor the aircraft systems, and provide status updates for the crew.
The cockpit is fitted with the Northrop Grumman low-power colour radar display. The map shows digitally stored image data.
The C-130J is equipped with a Honeywell dual-embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation system (GPS/INS), an enhanced traffic alerting and collision avoidance system (E-TCAS), a ground collision avoidance system, SKE2000 station keeping system, and an instrument landing system (ILS).
In July 2008, Lockheed Martin announced the following would be included in the baseline configuration of new C-130Js: Elbit Systems global digital map unit, the TacView portable mission display, and InegrFlight commercial GPS landing system sensor unit, supplied by CMC of Canada.
The cargo bay of the C-130J has a total usable volume of more than 4,500ft³ and can accommodate loads up to 37,216lb. For example, three armoured personnel carriers, five pallets, 74 litters (stretchers), 92 equipped combat troops or 64 paratroops. The bay is equipped with cargo handling rollers, tie-down rings, stowage containers, and stowage for troop seats.
The ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warning system uses electro-optic sensors to detect missile exhaust and advanced signal processing algorithms and spectral selection to analyse and prioritise threats. Sensors are mounted near the nose just below the second cockpit window and in the tail cone.
The BAE Systems AN/ALR-56M radar warning receiver is a superheterodyne receiver operating in the 2GHz to 20GHz bands. A low-band antenna and four high-band quadrant antennae are installed near the nose section below the second window of the cockpit and in the tail cone.
The BAE Systems Integrated Defence Solutions (formerly Tracor) AN/ALE-47 countermeasures system is capable of dispensing chaff and infra-red flares in addition to the POET and GEN-X active expendable decoys.
The Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-157 infra-red countermeasures system generates a varying frequency-agile infrared jamming signal. The infrared transmitter is surface-mounted at the aft end of the main undercarriage bay fairing.
USAF selected the Northrop Grumman Large Aircraft Infra-red Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system, an additional electronic warfare self-protection (EWSP) system, to equip its C-130 aircraft. LAIRCM is based on the AN/AAQ-24(V) NEMESIS.
The system achieved final operational capability (FOC) in December 2019.
A five-year delivery order for the system was placed by USAF in July 2006. Australia requested the sale of LAIRCM to equip its fleet of 12 C-130J in May 2008. The LAIRCM
system was installed in C-130J aircraft by AIR 5416 (Phase 4B2) for the protection of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The Northrop Grumman MODAR 4,000-colour weather and navigation radar are installed in the upward-hinged dielectric radome in the nose of the aircraft. The weather radar has a range of 250nm.
Turboprop engines of C-130J
The C-130J is equipped with four Allison AE2100D3 turboprop engines, each rated at 4,591 shaft horsepower (3,425kW). The all-composite six-blade R391 propeller system was developed by Dowty Aerospace.
The engines are equipped with full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) by Lucas Aerospace. An automatic thrust control system (ATCS) optimises the balance of power on the engines, allowing lower values of minimum control speeds and superior short-airfield performance.
The aircraft can carry a maximum internal fuel load of 45,900lb. An additional 18,700lb of fuel can be carried in external underwing fuel tanks. The refuelling probe installed on the centre of the fuselage has been relocated to the port side, over the cockpit.
The C-130J-30 is the stretched version of the C-130J. The cargo floor length of the stretched version is increased from 40ft to 55ft, which gives a significant increase in the aircraft’s airlift capability.
The stretched C-130J-30 can carry eight 463L pallets, 97 litters, 24 CDS (US Container Delivery System) bundles, 128 equipped combat troops or 92 paratroopers.
The first C-130J-30 for the UK RAF was delivered in November 1999 and deliveries of all 15 aircraft were completed in June 2001. A former UK RAF C-130J Hercules was transported to the US to join the US Navy Aerobatic Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, in August 2020.
A total of 39 aircraft are in production for the US Air Force, the first of which was delivered to the Air National Guard in December 2001. 12 were delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force and ten to the Italian Air Force. Four were ordered by Kuwaiti Air Force and three by the Danish Air Force.
The Indian Air Force operates 11 C-130J-30s and placed orders for additional aircraft. Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited (TLMAL) delivered the 100th C-130J Super Hercules empennage from its manufacturing facility in Hyderabad, India in February 2019.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force confirmed the purchase of five C-130J-30s in June 2020, which was approved by the US in 2019.
KC-130J tanker design, features and capabilities
The KC-130J features modern aerial refuelling capabilities and is designed based on the C-130 Hercules tanker technology. It can be integrated with modular systems for providing close air support to troops and conducting multi-sensor image reconnaissance.
The aircraft can also be deployed in logistic support and medical evacuation missions from ungraded landing zones. The crew of the KC-130J consists of two pilots, two loadmasters and one Advanced Crew Stations (ACS) operator.
KC-130J can accommodate 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers and equipment while conducting tactical transport duties. It can carry 74 patients on stretchers and their accompaniments in medical evacuation role.
The aircraft measures 29.3m in length and 11.4m in height, and has a wing-span of 39.7m. It has a maximum gross take-off weight of 79,380kg. The cargo volume of the aircraft is 4,551ft3.
It can carry a maximum fuel load of 61,364lb when fitted with external tanks. The optionally fitted fuselage tank stores 24,392lb of fuel. The fuel unloading capacity of the aircraft is up to 600gal a minute.
KC-130J Tanker aircraft weapon systems
The KC-130J aircraft is armed with Harvest Hawk (Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit) modular roll-on, roll-off weapons system. A fire control console is placed on a standard pallet in the cargo compartment.
The weapon system employs four Hellfire air-to-surface missiles fitted in place of the left-hand aerial refuelling pylon. It can also fire standoff precision-guided munitions, including the Raytheon AGM-176 Griffin and the MBDA GBU-44/B Viper Strike missiles from the cargo compartment.
The AN/AAQ-30 target sight system aboard the aircraft provides the capability to detect the targets at long ranges. It is mounted on the under wing fuel tank in the left and consists of infrared and electro-optic sensors.
HC-130J development and design
The HC-130J Combat King II was developed as a dedicated personnel recovery platform as part of the HC/MC-130 recapitalisation programme to replace ageing HC-130P/N aircraft of the ACC. The HC-130J completed its maiden flight in July 2010.
The first HC-130J Combat King II aircraft was rolled out in April 2010. The developmental testing of the HC-130J was concluded in March 2011. The mission capability of the aircraft was certified by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Centre in November 2012.
The HC-130J is designed based on the KC-130J tanker aircraft used by the US Marine Corps. The baseline KC-130J is converted into HC-130J with very minimal modification. The HC-130J incorporates advanced navigation and detection systems.
The aircraft has a length of 29.5m, wingspan of 40.4m and a height of 11.5m. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 74,389kg. The fuel capacity of the aircraft is 34,159L. The aircraft can carry a payload of 15,875kg.
HC-130J Cockpit, avionics and refuelling systems
The crew of the HC-130J includes a pilot, co-pilot, a combat systems officer and two enlisted load-masters.
The night vision goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit houses a fully integrated digital avionics suite incorporating head-up displays (HUD) and multifunctional displays (MFD) for flight control and navigation.
The HC-130J also incorporates inertial navigation system (INS), global positioning system (GPS), forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and satellite and data-burst communications.
The HC-130J Combat King II is equipped with refuelling pods on under-wing pylons and additional internal fuel tanks for conducting in-flight refuelling of helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It can be used for aerial refuelling of up to two rotorcraft simultaneously at night. The aircraft can also participate in forward area refuelling point (FARP) missions in support of joint and allied forces.
The aircraft is fitted with a universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation (UARRSI) for conducting in-flight refuelling with boom-equipped tanker aircraft.
C-130J international orders
A total of 1,186 C-130J and C-130J-30 aircraft were ordered and more than 150 delivered. USAF, Air National Guard, Marine Corps and Coastguard have ordered 89 C-130J and C-130J-30 and 20 KC-130J tankers, while the UK has accepted delivery of 10 C-130J and 15 C-130J-30. Italian Air Force received 12 C-130J and ten C-130J-30, while the Royal Australian Air Force received 12 C-130J. Finally, Kuwaiti Air Force and Danish Air Force now have four C-130J-30s.
In April 2004, the US Marine Corps formally accepted the first KC-130J tanker/transport into service. The aircraft was first deployed in combat in April 2005 in Iraq. In December 2006, an additional order was placed for three C-130J-30 for USAF and one KC-130J for the USMC. The KC-130J was delivered to the USMC in October 2010.
In May 2007, India requested the foreign military sale (FMS) of six C-130J aircraft. The $1.2bn FMS contract was placed in February 2008. The first C-130J was delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in December 2010 and entered service in February 2011. The third and fourth C-130Js were delivered in June 2011. The fifth aircraft was delivered in September 2011. Deliveries were concluded in December 2011.
In November 2007, Norway placed an order for the purchase of four C-130J Super Hercules aircraft under a $519m FMS agreement. One aircraft was delivered in November 2008 and the second in April 2009. Deliveries concluded in May 2010 with the handing over of the fourth C-130J aircraft. In September 2012, Lockheed Martin delivered an additional C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to the Norwegian Air Force as Norway lost one of its four aircraft in March 2012.
In January 2008, Canada placed a C$1.4bn order for 17 C-130J aircraft. The first delivery took place in June 2010 at the Canadian Forces Base Trenton. Deliveries were completed by April 2012.
In June 2008, USAF ordered six HC/MC-130J special operations variants of the C-130J. The first MC-130J was delivered in March 2011.
In April 2010, the Israeli Government ordered nine C-130J-30 aircraft. Lockheed Martin delivered the first C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to Israeli Air Force (IAF) in June 2013.
Under an undefined contract action (UCA) signed with the US Government in April 2011, Lockheed Martin supplied an additional C-130J to Israel in August 2015.
Qatar ordered four C-130J-30 aircraft. The production of the first C-130J-30 aircraft was completed in May 2011. Lockheed Martin delivered four C-130J-30 aircraft to the Qatar Armed Forces in September 2011. In August 2008, Iraq requested the sale of six C-130J-30 aircraft. The first aircraft completed its maiden flight in September 2012.
The Sultanate of Oman ordered one C-130J-30 long-configuration aircraft in July 2009 for delivery in 2012. In August 2010, Oman ordered two additional C-130J aircraft. The first aircraft was delivered in September 2012 and two more in 2014.
Lockheed Martin signed a contract with Tunisia in March 2010 to supply two C-130J Super Hercules airlifters. Lockheed Martin delivered the first C-130J to Tunisia in April 2013. The second aircraft was delivered in December 2014.
The US Government awarded a $245m FMS contract to Lockheed Martin on 27 May 2010 for supplying three KC-130J refuelling aircraft to Kuwait Air Force. The contract was managed by the US Navy. The first aircraft was delivered in August 2014.
The Republic of Korean Air Force (ROKAF) ordered four C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in December 2010. Lockheed Martin delivered the first two C-130Js to the ROKAF in March 2014. It also provided aircrew and maintenance training for two years.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a $270m contract by USAF in February 2011 to supply C-130 Aircrew Training Systems (ATS). The contract includes the provision of training and instruction services, site management, engineering support, and operation and maintenance for aircrew training devices.
In September 2011, CAE was awarded a contract by USAF to design, build and supply four additional full flight simulators for C-130J transport aircraft.
The first MC-130J Shadow II aircraft was delivered to the United States Air Force Special Operations Command by Lockheed Martin in September 2011. Lockheed Martin delivered the first HC-130J Combat King II aircraft to the US Air Education and Training Command (AETC) in the same month.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a $84.3m contract by USAF on 12 September 2011 for the first phase of the C-130J Maintenance and Aircrew Training System (MATS) II programme. The company supplied four weapon system trainers (WST) to the Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command for aircrew instruction, and renders programme management and engineering services as part of the contract.
The contract included an option to procure two more WSTs, in addition to other types of trainers, including a fuselage trainer. USAF exercised one option to procure an additional WST. CAE designed and manufactured the WST under a subcontract received from Lockheed Martin in March 2013.
In October 2011, India exercised an option to purchase six additional C-130Js from Lockheed Martin under an estimated $1.2bn foreign military sale. USAF baseline instruments, six Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 additional engines, eight AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems, and eight AN/ALR-56M advanced radar warning receivers will also be delivered under the military sale.
In October 2012, the US Coast Guard placed a $218m order with Lockheed Martin for three additional HC-130J aircraft.
Lockheed Martin delivered two additional C-130Js to Little Rock Air Force Base in December 2015. The base currently operates a fleet of 47 aircraft.
The US Government awarded a Multiyear II contract to Lockheed Martin in December 2015 for 78 C-130J aircraft. USAF received two more C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in June 2016.
The US Government finalised a C-130J Multiyear III contract with Lockheed Martin to deliver 50 C-130Js in December 2019. The aircraft will be built at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, facility and delivered between 2021 to 2025. The Department of
Defense provided the funding of more than $1.5m for the delivery of the first 21 C-130Js under the contract.
In November 2015, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $969m contract by the US Department of Defence for seventeen C-130J Hercules.
In December 2015, the Royal Air Force awarded a £369m contract to Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce to receive Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) for the C-130J fleet until 2022.
Lockheed Martin received a $10bn contract in August 2016 to cover USAF’s future orders under the C-130J production programme. The scope of the contract includes foreign military sales.
Lockheed Martin received an order of 14 C-130Js to be delivered to the USAF installation at Yokota Air Base in Japan. The first aircraft was delivered in February 2017 and the order was completed in May 2018.
France ordered four Super Hercules aircraft, of which two C-130Js were delivered in 2017 and 2018, while the first KC-130J aerial refueler was delivered in September 2019.
- C-130J Super Hercules: Tactical airlifter.
- C-130J-30: Lockheed Martin designation for its 15 ft (4.6 m) extended fuselage variant; designated CC-130J by USAF for a short time after 2002.
- C-130J-SOF: Variant outfitted with extended ISR equipment for use with special forces. Unveiled in June 2017.
- CC-130J Super Hercules: Royal Canadian Air Force designation for the C-130J-30.
- EC-130J Commando Solo III: Variant for the Air Force Special Operations Command, operated by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
- HC-130J Combat King II: Long range patrol and air-sea rescue variant for the United States Coast Guard. USAF HC-130J version has changes for in-flight refueling.
- KC-130J: Aerial refueling tanker and tactical airlifter version for United States Marine Corps.
- MC-130J Commando II: Designed for Air Force Special Operations Command. Originally named Combat Shadow II.
- WC-130J: Weather reconnaissance (“Hurricane Hunter”) version for the Air Force Reserve Command.
- Hercules C4: Royal Air Force designation for the C-130J-30.
- Hercules C5: Royal Air Force designation for the C-130J
- LM-100J: A civilian version of the C-130J-30
- SC-130J Sea Hercules: Proposed maritime patrol version of the C-130J, designed for coastal surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.
|Crew||3 (two pilots, and one loadmaster are minimum crew)|
|Capacity||92 passengers (128 for C-130J-30) or
64 airborne troops (92 for C-130J-30) or
6 pallets (8 pallets for C-130J-30) or
74 litter patients with 5 medical personnel (97 litters for C-130J-30)
2–3 Humvees, or 1 Stryker (with turret removed) or an M113 armored personnel carrier
|Payload||42,000 lb (19,051 kg)|
|Length||97 ft 9 in (29.8 m)|
|Wingspan||132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)|
|Height||38 ft 10 in (11.84 m)|
|Wing area||1,745 ft2 (162.1 m2)|
|Empty weight||75,562 lb (34,274 kg)|
||42,000 lb (19,051 kg)|
|Max take off weight||155,000 lb (70,307 kg)|
||4 × Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines, 4,637 shp (3,458 kW) each|
||362 kn (417 mph, 670 km/h)|
|Cruise speed||348 kn (400 mph, 644 km/h)|
||1,800 nmi (2,100 mi, 3,300 km) at max normal payload (34,000 lb (15,422 kg))|
||28,000 ft (8,500 m) with 42,000 lb (19,051 kg) payload|
|Rate of climb|
- Royal Australian Air Force – 12 C-130J-30s in service as of January 2014
- Royal Bahraini Air Force – One ex-RAF C-130J in service as of December 2018, with additional one on order.
- Bangladesh Air Force – 5 ex-RAF C-130Js ordered. Three C-130J received.
- Royal Canadian Air Force – 17 C-130J-30s in operation as of December 2018.
- Royal Danish Air Force – four C-130J-30s in service as of December 2018
- Egyptian Air Force – two C-130Js on order for delivery in 2019.
- French Air and Space Force – two C-130Js and two KC-130Js based at Orléans – Bricy Air Base in joint Franco-German unit. First C-130J inducted into service in January 2018.
- German Air Force – 3 C-130J-30s and 3 KC-130Js on order, to be based at Évreux-Fauville Air Base in France in joint Franco-German unit.
- Indian Air Force – 11 C-130J-30s in service as of December 2018. A total of 12 C-130J-30s had been ordered by December 2013; one crashed in 2014.
- Iraqi Air Force – three C-130J-30s in service as of January 2014, with a total of six C-130J-30s on order.
- Israeli Air Force – six C-130J-30s on order with deliveries planned to begin in spring 2013. It planned to acquire a total of nine C-130J-30s in 2008. 7 received as of January 2019.
- Italian Air Force – 20 aircraft (15 C-130J and 5 KC-130J) in service as 2020.
- Kuwait Air Force – three KC-130Js on order, with an option to purchase three more
- Libyan Air Force – 2 C-130J-30 on order.
- Royal New Zealand Air Force – 5 C-130J-30 aircraft ordered in June 2020 to replace its existing fleet of C-130s.
- Royal Norwegian Air Force – four C-130J-30s in service as of January 2014
- Royal Air Force of Oman – one C-130J-30 in use as of January 2014. Two more C-130Js on order with delivery in 2014.
- Royal Saudi Air Force – two KC-130J tankers on order for delivery in 2016
- Republic of Korea Air Force – four C-130J-30s ordered with for delivery in 2014. Two of four aircraft were delivered to Republic of Korea Air Force in 2014.
- Tunisian Air Force – two C-130J-30 received as of December 2014
- Qatar Emiri Air Force – four C-130J-30s in use as of January 2014
- UK Royal Air Force – 14 aircraft (1 C-130J, and 13 C-130J-30s) in service as of January 2020
- United States