Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules is one of the most widely recognised shapes in the air. In production since 1998, the latest major production version is the C-130J Super Hercules, of which more than 360 have been delivered to 15 nations.
The global fleet has surpassed 1.5 million flight hours. France is soon set to join the C-130J club when it receives its two C-130J-30 transports and two KC-130Js, the latter featuring additional tanker capability.
Versatility has been the hallmark of the Hercules since its service entry in the mid-1950s, and the C-130J has mirrored the variety of roles undertaken by the earlier generations of Hercules. In addition to the C-130J and stretched-fuselage C-130J-30 transports, Lockheed Martin has produced the EC-130J electronic warfare platform, the HC-130J for search and rescue, the KC-130J tanker/transport, the MC-130J for special forces support and the WC-130J meteorological reconnaissance platform.
There is also a civilian version, the LM-100J, that continues the tradition of the first-generation L-100 Hercules in the civilian freighter market. Lockheed Martin rolled out the first LM-100J on 9 February, the initial aircraft from a batch of five for the undisclosed launch customer.
In the Middle East and North Africa region, the C-130J is operated in its transport form by Iraq, Oman (Royal Flight and air force), Qatar and Tunisia.
Kuwait has a fleet of KC-130Js that not only perform transport missions but also provide tanker support for the air force’s F/A-18 Hornet fighters.
Saudi Arabia has also received a pair of KC-130Js, and may order more of the Super Hercules – US Congressional approval has been received for it to receive up to 25.
Here in the UAE, Lockheed Martin supports the air force’s legacy Hercules fleet of three C-130Hs and three L-100s, plus three L-100s of the Dubai Air Wing, through the AMMROC joint venture established by Mubadala with Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary, Sikorsky. AMMROC has recently undertaken a major avionics overhaul of the UAE’s fleet.