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Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules

Tactical Medium Transport Aircraft

Aviation / Aerospace

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Image from the United States Department of Defense DIVDS imagery database.
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Image from the United States Department of Defense DIVDS imagery database.
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Image from the United States Department of Defense DIVDS imagery database.
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Image from the United States Department of Defense DIVDS imagery database.

A plethora of Western powers and American allies have taken on the improved Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules platform.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 8/12/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
During the Cold War period (1947-1991), one of the most important aircraft to emerge from the West became the Lockheed C-130 "Hercules", a medium-class tactical transport utilizing a high-wing layout and quadruple engine arrangement for excellent Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities. Entering service in the 1950s, the type has managed over 2,500 examples into the current decade and remains one of the more reliable and popular transport systems operating anywhere in the world - by airpowers both big and small.

By the 1990s the Hercules was still rooted in its 1950s technology for the most part and a large-scale upgrade of the series was deemed the best effort to keeping the series air worthy for the foreseeable future (the C-130 has been continuously flying for over sixty years!) - especially in dealing with a modern, digitally-driven battlefield. From this initiative arrived the C-130J "Super Hercules", a vastly upgraded version of the aging C-130 line. A first-flight was had on April 5th, 1996 and service introduction followed in 1999. To date (2017), over 300 of the type have been produced and these stock some of the largest modern air services like that of Australia, Canada, Egypt, France, Israel, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

While the C-130J retains the same general form and function of its predecessor, it incorporates a slew of modern systems and technologies to make for an improved end-product. One of the more major upgrades is the switch to 4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100 D3 series turboprop engines driving multi-bladed Dowty composite propeller blades. Internally, the cockpit sports a collection of digital displays and fast-processing systems. Head-Up Displays (HUDs), typically seen in combat fighter aircraft, are installed ahead of each pilot's position. Automation is expanded where possible to alleviate mission fatigue and reliance on additional crewmembers for basic tasks - this make a typical flight crew just three personnel to include two pilots and a dedicated loadmaster.

The cargo, accessed via a rear loading ramp under the empennage, hold can carry up to 92 traditional passengers or 64 combat-equipped paratroopers. In the MEDEVAC role, this same space can sustain up to 74 patient litters and accompanying medical staff numbering five. Six pallets of cargo can be hauled or, it their place, three HUMVEE vehicles or a single LAV-25 (or similar) armored combat vehicle. it is this sort of versatility that had garnered the Hercules family line such global recognition.
Dimensions include a length of 97.8 feet, a wingspan of 132.6 feet and a height of 38.9 feet. Empty weight is 75,560lb against an MTOW of 164,000lb. Performance includes a maximum speed of 417mph, a cruising speed of 400mph, a range out to 2,070 miles and a service ceiling up to 40,400 feet (absolute). The C-130J requires just 3,130 feet of runway distance to take-off with a 155,000lb gross weight load.

Compared to the earlier C-130 transport models, the J-model is both faster and flies farther while also requiring much shorter runway travel. Its improved technology means better flow with existing digital communications and satellite equipment being deployed by modern air powers.

The launch customer for the J-model became the British Royal Air Force (RAF) which committed to 25 of the type. The series also serves American special forces and other special mission-minded groups of the United States military. Both the USAF and USMC have operated the J-model in the American commitments over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Variants include the base C-130J airlifter, the stretched C-130J-30 and the C-130J-SOF, the latter an export-minded special operations product. The CC-130J is the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAAF) mark covering the C-130J-30 in service. The C-130J forms the framework of other well-known, in-service Hercules marks like the EC-130J Commando Solo III specops variant, the HC-130J Combat King II USCG Search and Rescue (SAR) model, the KC-130J aerial tanker, the MC-130J Commando II specops model (formerly "Combat Shadow II") and the WC-130J weather reconnaissance platform. The British Royal Air Force recognizes the C-130J-30 as the Hercules C.Mk 4 and the C-130J becomes the Hercules C.Mk 5.

The LM-100J is the civilian market form of the C-130J-30. The SC-130J Sea Hercules is a proposed maritime patroller based on the C-130J.

August 2017 - Bahrain has purchased two ex-Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) C-130J models.

October 2017 - France and Germany are working together to form a joint transport unit consisting of the C-130J model. This fleet is set to become active sometime in 2021 with logistical commitments shared between the two European powers. This group will include a pair of KC-130J aerial tanker aircraft and be based on French soil.

January 2018 - France has received its first C-130J platform from the United States. Four examples, purchased through the 2016 budget, will be acquired by the European power.

May 2018 - The United States State Department has approved the sale of six C-130J Super Hercules units to the nation of Germany. These will be delivered in transport and aerial tanker guises and fill the gap created by Airbus A400M transport delays.

June 2018 - It was announced that Indonesia has committed to the purchase of five C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. These are set to replace five aging C-130B models currently in service.

August 2018 - It was announced that the Indonesian C-130J aircraft will not be delivered until late-2019 / early-2020.

November 2018 - Bangladesh has received one of two former British RAF C-130J transport platforms.

November 2018 - Bahrain has received the first of two former British RAF C-130J transport platforms.

June 2019 - New Zealand has selected the C-130J to succeed its aging stock of C-130H tactical transport models. Five H-model aircraft are in service. This procurement decision will bring the nation's transport capabilities in line with its global allies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom (as well as the United States). The C-130J beat out competition in the French Airbus A400M and the Brazilian Embraer KC-390.

November 2019 - Lockheed Martin has offered a maritime-centric patrol version of its C-130J to NATO as the C-130J MPA "Sea Hercules".

January 2020 - Lockheed Martin is set to deliver up to fifty additional C-130J platforms to the United States military in a U.S. DoD contract worth $1.5 billion awarded on December 27th, 2019. The initial agreement covers twenty-one airframes. The aircraft will stock the fleets of the United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard.

June 2020 - The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is planning to purchase five C-130J Super Hercules platforms.

July 2020 - Lockheed has been awarded a $15 billion USD contract for C-130J upgrade work.

August 2020 - C-130J models, with a new center "wingbox" intended to extend their operational services lives, are being introduced into the British RAF inventory.


Active, In-Service
405 Units
Lockheed Martin - USA
National flag of Australia National flag of Bahrain National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Canada National flag of Denmark National flag of Egypt National flag of France National flag of Germany National flag of India National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iraq National flag of Israel National flag of Italy National flag of Kuwait National flag of Libya National flag of New Zealand National flag of Norway National flag of Oman National flag of Qatar National flag of Saudi Arabia National flag of South Korea National flag of Tunisia National flag of United Kingdom National flag of United States Australia; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Canada; Denmark; Egypt; France; Germany (ordered); India; Indonesia (announced); Iraq; Israel; Italy; Kuwait; Libya; New Zealand (announced); Norway; Oman; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Tunisia; Qatar; United Kingdom; United States
- Transport
- Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
- Special Forces
97.77 ft (29.8 m)
132.55 ft (40.4 m)
38.88 ft (11.85 m)
Empty Weight:
75,563 lb (34,275 kg)
164,024 lb (74,400 kg)
(Diff: +88,460lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules production model)
4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines developing 4,637 horsepower each.
Max Speed:
416 mph (670 kph; 362 kts)
Service Ceiling:
28,264 feet (8,615 m; 5.35 miles)
Max Range:
2,072 miles (3,335 km; 1,801 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules production model)
C-130J "Super Hercules" - Base Series Designation.
C-130J - Base Production Model
C-130J-30 - Stretched fuselage version (15ft added length).
C-130J SOF - Special Forces model for export; unveiled at Paris Air Show 2017.
CC-130J "Super Hercules" - Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAAF) version of the C-130J-30.
EC-130J "Commando Solo III" - Spec Ops version
HC-130J "Combat King II" - Long-range maritime patrol and Search/Rescue platform for USCG.
KC-130J - Aerial tanker model for USMC.
MC-130J "Commando II" - Spec Ops version
WC-130J - Weather reconnaissance platform.
Hercules C.Mk 4 - British RAF version of the C-130J-30 model.
Hercules C.Mk 5 - British RAF version of the C-130J model.
LM-100J - Civilian market version of the C-130J-30 model.
SC-130J "Sea Hercules" - Proposed maritime patroller based on the C-130J; Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability.
C-130J Mk.4 - UK RAF designation for C-130J.
C-130J MPA "Sea Hercules" - Maritime Patrol Aircraft proposal for NATO requirement (2019).
General Assessment

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (416mph).

Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules operational range when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (405)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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