Later than we – and some say even the Philippine Air Force expected – the first of two “new” Lockheed C-130T Hercules aircraft joined the Asian country’s military this week.
The aircraft landed at almost midnight on 5 April 2016 on Brig. Gen. Benito N. Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City at Cebu. A full Philippine Air Force 12 persons strong crew manned the aircraft during the four day journey from Tuscon, Arizona (USA), where the plane left on 2 April. The airlifter was actually expected roughly a month earlier, but what caused the delay is not known.
Travelling along legs
Herc 5011 was travelling along legs typical for so many other flights that were flown without in-flight refuel in the past: first a short hop to one of the airbases in California (to test the systems), then to Hickam AFB/Honolulu IAP on Oahu (Hawaii), followed by Wake Island and Guam before entering Philippine airspace.
220th Airlift Wing
At BGNEAB – as the home of the 220th Airlift Wing is called in short – the Hercules gets additional interior fittings before becoming fully operational. The wing already flies older B and H models, as well as the Airbus C295 recently acquired by Manilla.
The offical public blessing of the former US Marine Corps KC-130 as C-130T is planned for 12 April at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
The Hercules fleet of Saudi Arabia is getting bigger and bigger. Upon the 48 aircraft “the Kingdom” is already operating, just two new ones arrived.
The latest deliveries are two KC-130Js, making Saudi Arabia the 16th country operating the type for its in-flight refuelling needs. No other country in the world more C-130s than Saudi Arabia, apart from the aircraft’s homeland United States of course.
Saudi Hercules fleet
In total the Royal Saudi Air Force will receive 5 KC-130Js, while it has 20 regular C-130J-30s on order as well. They will be added to the 30 C-130E/H tactical airlifters, 7 KC-130H tankers, 6 L-100-30 airlifters and 5 VC-130H VIP aircraft.
We already served you a nice dish of images of the big NATO & partners exercise Cold Response earlier, but the military photographers and the Norwegian military audiovisual unit have given us some more nice stuff! Press play and see more of the aircraft and helicopters that supported the 15,000 troops strong exercise in Northern and Central Norway, with even the Norwegian crown prince Haakon deployed, earning his tactical special operations parajump certification with the Norwegian Special Operations Command.
From 21 February to 4 March, Portugal was the stage of Real Thaw, the annual exercise that provides special training to NATO units most likely to participate in military operations within international cooperative frame works. And if Portugal was the stage, Beja airbase was the dressing room. Fighter aircraft, transporters and helos all played their part.
Other than delivering jet noise over large parts of Portugal, the main goal of Real Thaw 2016 was to provide tough tactical training with participation of air, land and sea forces and focusing on the execution phase. Participating forces were confronted with an operating environment as realistic as possible and typical of current operations, according to the Portuguese Air Force, organizer of Real Thaw.
The Portuguese sent all their assets to join Real Thaw, including F-16s, Alfa Jets, C-130 Hercules plus P-3 and C295 maritime patrol aircraft. Forces from other countries were invited to participate in Real Thaw 2016 in order to create a joint-operational environment.
Participation also came from the US (F-15, MV-22 and C-130), Norway (F-16), the Netherlands (C-130), Belgium (C-130), Denmark (AS550 support helicopters), Spain (C-212 light transport aircraft) and the UK. Also, a NATO E-3A Awacs was involved.
Day and night
Missions took place at both day and night times environments and included the use of para jumpers, forward air controllers and other ground forces. The coordination of Real Thaw 2016 was run from Beja Air Base in central Portugal. In order to give support to air and ground missions that took place further north in the areas of Guarda and Pinhel, a tactical air base was temporarily set up near the town of Seia.
Real Thaw 2016 was the eighth exercise in a series conducted by the Portuguese Air Force since 2009.