The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules has reached a new milestone. On 11 December 2015 the 2,500th aircraft of the type was delivered: a HC-130J Combat King II to the US Air Force’s 71st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.
With reaching the number the US aircraft manufacturer illustrates once again the important role of the most popular military transport aircraft of modern times. The C-130 easily beats the Antonov AN-26 (1,400 produced), the AN-24 (1,300 – 1,400) and the AN-12 (1,200+ produced), of which only the AN-12 is somewhat similar as a four-engine turboprop tactical airlifter. The Hercules has been flying into many battles, providing troops with necessary provisions and ammunition. But it also brought thousands of tons of food and medical supplies to people in need and rescuing many from disaster zones.
Today at least 68 countries operate the C-130 in its military role, logging more than 22 million flight hours, according to statistics from Lockheed Martin. There are even a few civilian operators like Lynden Air Cargo from the United States and Safair from South Africa. Sixteen nations choose to newest model, the C-130J Super Hercules, for their nation’s air arms. More than 100 different variants of the C-130 have been made.
C-130 First Flight
The characteristic sound of the Herc’s four Allison T56 engines have been with us ever since 23 August 1954, when prototype YC-130 took off from the Lockheed plant in Burbank, California, to land at Edwards Air Force Base roughly an hour later. Since then the C-130 has been developed into not only a tactical airlifter, but flying weather stations, air tanker, airborne gunship, reconnaissance aircraft and (combat) rescue machine.
Adore the Hercules
Let’s give a big applause to the men and women who designed, made, fly, service or just adore the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules … wherever they are with some historic Hercules images (below).
The oldest Lockheed C-130 Hercules in the US Air Force inventory arrived at its final resting spot on 3 March 2015. HC-130P Combat King “Iron Horse” (aircraft 62-1863) landed at David-Monthan AFB in Arizona, home of the “boneyard”, after a service life of 52 years.
Iron Horse began its Air Force career as a C-130E Hercules assigned to the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing during the Vietnam War and ended with a final deployment in 2009 with the 71st Rescue Squadron. Iron Horse first got its nickname when it was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in 1994 as an EC-130C Airborne Command and Control Center.
After nine years at its future retirement home in Arizona, the historic aircraft was selected by Air Combat Command for its final modification into the HC-130P Combat King in 2003. It was the only aircraft that was converted. The Air Force Special Operations Command made the decision to cancel the program and buy new HC-130J aircraft instead.
Moody and its 71st RQS welcomed Iron Horse into its fleet in 2007, and it has served here until the HC-130J Combat King II was introduced.
With the international community focusing on both the Russian-Ukrainian stand-off and the missing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, one almost forgets loads of other things happen in the world of aviation. Take the famous Red Flag exercises in the Nevada dessert. At AIRheads↑Fly we published a much viewed feature on edition 14-01, but the second Red Flag of the year went by largely unnoticed. Until now 🙂
Even the media units of the Belgian and Danish ministries of Defence hardly paid any attention to their men and women being deployed to literately the Vegas of aerial combat. Maybe they took the nickname of the host city a bit to seriously: What happens there, stays there. Only when Belgian Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge visited the operations at Nellis AFB, a little bit of news coverage followed but without any Belgian F-16s to show. From the Danish side, it was as quiet as it normally is from the Saudis who were also there this time.