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.
UPDATED 3 January | Lockheed Martin is to build 32 more C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft for various US defense agencies. The order is worth over 1 billion USD and compromises 13 C-130J-30s, five Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) equipped HC-130Js, 11 combat support MC-130Js and two KC-130J tankers.
UPDATE | Lockheed Martin reports it is contracted to build another 16 C-130J-30, eight HC-130J, 19 MC-130J and four KC-130Js, bringing up the total of aircraft on order to 78. The contract is worth 5 billion USD. The US Coast Guard also options five HC-130J aircraft.
Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, and is expected to be complete by April 2020. The US already has well over 200 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in service.
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 US State Departement has approved the sale of two Lockheed Martin C-130J transport and two KC-130J tanker aircraft to France, it reported on Tuesday 10 November. The sale also involves Electronic Countermeasure Dispensers, Missile Warning Systems, Radar Warning Receivers plus communication and navigation equipment. Estimated worth: 650 million USD.
The C-130J Super Hercules aircraft will provide critical transport, airdrop, and resupply to French troops in support of current and future operations. The tanker will provide an air refueling capability to France’s fighter aircraft, light transport aircraft, and helicopters, the State Departement says.
The French interest in additional Hercules aircraft came to light earlier this year, following the fatal crash of an Airbus A400M, the new transport aircraft that also sees operation in France. The country also already operates C-130H and CN-235 transporters.
For the first time ever the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) participates in the multi-national, US hosted large-scale combat exercise Red Flag with its Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules and a Lockheed AP-3C Orion.
Having committed its fighter jets before the RAAF is keen on exposing its large propeller plane crews to a modern war scenario. “There are few training environments in the world that recreate the dangers of a modern battlespace like Exercise Red Flag,” RAAF’s Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull says in an Australian Defence Force’s press release.
Two C-130J Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond (NSW), an AP-3C Orion from RAAF Base Edinburgh (SA) and an Air Battle Management contingent from 41 Wing are participating in the Red Flag 2015-1, alongside combat aircraft from the United States and the United Kingdom. As many of our readers know, base of operations is Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
“Day-time and night-time missions at Red Flag will require large numbers of aircraft to work together across a variety of roles to defeat threats. The dangers they face range from aggressor F-15 and F-16 fighters and simulated missile shots, through to electronic warfare and cyberspace attacks,” Vice-Marshal Turnbull adds.
While the Hercules’s will train in tactical airlift flying in a war zone, the AP-3C Orion crew will focus on overland surveillance of the combat area. The Nevada desert ranges are even somewhat similar to the current environment the RAAF is facing in real-life over the Middle East fighting ISIS in Iraq. Moreover, the RAAF crews deployed to Nellis bring along experience from Operation Slipper over Afghanistan.
Exercise Red Flag 15-1 continues until 13 February 2015, with 150 RAAF personnel participating.