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Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules

Aerial Tanker / Transport Aircraft

United States | 1962

"The Lockheed Martin KC-130 is a dedicated aerial refueling tanker offshoot of the famous C-130 Hercules transport line."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/31/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Lockheed KC-130 Hercules is a combination tanker-transport aircraft based on the hugely successful like of high-wing C-130 Hercules transports. The KC-130 is a tactically-minded unit with an inter-theater reach developed to refuel and resupply forward-operating bases near the operational fronts. Beyond its refueling and resupply transport roles, the KC-130 can also be called upon to under MEDEVAC sorties, conduct insertion/extraction of allied troops and serve as a flying Direct Air Support Center (DASC). The KC-130 retains all of the same flying characteristics and general performance specifications found in the original C-130. The initial KC-130F Hercules models arrived in 1962.

The KC-130 first flew in prototype (GV-1) form during January of 1960. Initial models were six KC-130Bs modified from their transport forms to serve as in-flight refueling tankers. Forty-Six KC-130F models then followed in 1962 - marking the first definitive and quantitative production forms. The KC-130H appeared across thirty-three examples. In 1976, the KC-130R was introduced and these were fourteen ex-USAF mounts transferred into USMC service. The KC-130T followed in 1983, some 28 examples modified from C-130H Hercules transport airframes. The KC-130J "Super Hercules" arrived in April of 2004 as a much revised and improved model - sharing only 55% commonality in parts with previous airframes - and these have numbered 42 examples. These were based on the new C-130J Super Hercules variant. The KC-130F and the KC-130R have were then retired in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Since its inception, the KC-130 was used in the combat zones of Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and in ongoing American operations throughout Afghanistan and Iraq. As the aircraft also proved a favorite among foreign operators, it also saw use in the Falklands War under the Argentine flag. Other operators became Brazil, Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, Indonesia, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore.

The current-generation KC-130J features a crew of four to include two pilots, a crew chief and a loadmaster. The cargo bay can manage up to 92 seated passengers or 64 combat-ready airborne troopers. In their place the aircraft can carry up to three HUMVEE-sized vehicles or a single Armored Personnel Carrier / Infantry Fighting Vehicle as required. For the MEDEVAC role, the system can house up to 74 patient litters along with two corresponding medical staff. In terms of cargo proper, the KC-130 can haul approximately six pallets for a payload maximum of 42,000lbs.

Dimensions include a length of 97 feet, 9 inches, with a wingspan of 132 feet, 7 inches and a height of 38 feet, 10 inches. Empty weight is 75,560lbs with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 175,000lbs. Power is served through 4 x Rolls-Royce AR2100D3 turboprop engines providing 4,640 horsepower each. These drive six-blade composite propeller assemblies. Performance includes a maximum speed of 420 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 400 miles per hour, a range out to 3,260 miles and a service ceiling of 28,000 feet.

The KC-130 retains the rough- field/short-field operating capabilities of the Hercules line, capable of taking off and landing on unprepared runways and requiring a take-off distance of just 3,125 feet with a 155,000lb operating weight. The high wing design provides the necessary low-level control and lift needed for such actions. The pilots are also offered a commanding view from their flight deck perched high above and aft the short nose cone. A powered door at the rear of the fuselage facilitates loading/unloading of cargo. For the refueling role, four pods are fitted between each of the four engine installation.

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July 2018 - UTC Aerospace was announced as the winner of a contract to upgrade some twenty-four USN Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) aircraft. The deal covers C/KC-130T transport models.

September 2019 - The French Air Force has taken deliver of its first KC-130J tanker aircraft.

June 2020 - The last USMC squadron operating KC-130T tankers have received their first KC-130J production model.

June 2020 - Spain will begin to draw down operations involving its fleet of Lockheed KC/C-130H "Hercules" aircraft before the end of 2020 as it ramps up multi-mission use of the newer A400M airlifter fleet. Missions include air-to-air refueling as well as tactical- and strategic-level sorties.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Lockheed Martin KC-130J Super Hercules Aerial Tanker / Transport Aircraft.
4 x Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines developing 4,640 horsepower each.
416 mph
670 kph | 362 kts
Max Speed
28,215 ft
8,600 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
3,262 miles
5,250 km | 2,835 nm
Operational Range
1,800 ft/min
549 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Lockheed Martin KC-130J Super Hercules Aerial Tanker / Transport Aircraft.
98.4 ft
30.00 m
O/A Length
132.5 ft
(40.40 m)
O/A Width
38.7 ft
(11.80 m)
O/A Height
75,563 lb
(34,275 kg)
Empty Weight
385,809 lb
(175,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules family line.
KC-130 "Hercules" / "Super Hercules" - Base Series Designation.
GV-1 - Original prototype model designation
KC-130B - Initial batch of six aircraft
KC-130F - Initial large batch production based on the KC-130B models; 46 exmaples.
KC-130H - Tanker conversions from C-130H transports; 33 examples.
KC-130R - Ex-USAF models transferred to USMC; 14 examples.
KC-130T - Modified platforms from C-130H models; 28 examples.
KC-130T-30 - Two examples based on the C-130H-30
KC-130J "Super Hercules" - Tanker-Transport Variant based on the much-improved C-130J Super Hercules line.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 169 Units

Contractor(s): Lockheed Martin - USA
National flag of Argentina National flag of Brazil National flag of Canada National flag of France National flag of Indonesia National flag of Israel National flag of Italy National flag of modern Japan National flag of Kuwait National flag of Libya National flag of Malaysia National flag of Morocco National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Singapore National flag of Spain National flag of Sweden National flag of the United States

[ Argentina; Brazil; Canada; France; Israel; Italy; Japan; Indonesia; Kuwait; Libya; Malaysia; Morocco; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Singapore; Sweden; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (416mph).

Graph Average of 375 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules
Image from the United States Department of Defense DIVDS imagery database.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules Aerial Tanker / Transport Aircraft.
Going Further...
The Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules / Super Hercules Aerial Tanker / Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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