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.
March 2021 - The British Royal Air Force seeks to retire its C-130J fleet before the end of the decade.
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
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC)
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
Design incorporates feature(s) that facilitates loading / unloading of cargo / personnel from the aircraft.
97.8 ft (29.80 m)
132.5 ft (40.40 m)
38.9 ft (11.85 m)
75,563 lb (34,275 kg)
164,024 lb (74,400 kg)
+88,460 lb (+40,125 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules production variant)
monoplane / high-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper-most position allowable along the dorsal line of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the base Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules production variant)
4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines developing 4,637 horsepower each driving six-bladed propeller units.
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).
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (416mph).
Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
The 3 qualities we look at for a balanced aircraft design are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (405)
This entry's total production compared against the most-produced military and civilian aircraft types in history (Ilyushin IL-2 and Cessna 172, respectively).
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
Aviation developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules...
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