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France receives second and final KC-130J tanker-transport

France has received into service the second of two Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker-transport aircraft as part of a wider Hercules procurement effort, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) announced on 7 January.

The second of two KC-130Js and the last of four new Hercules for the French Air Force were handed over to service officials at the Marietta production facility in the United States on 4 February. (Lockheed Martin)

The second of two KC-130Js and the last of four new Hercules for the French Air Force were handed over to service officials at the Marietta production facility in the United States on 4 February. (Lockheed Martin)

The tanker variant of the C-130J transport aircraft was handed over to French officials at the Marietta production facility in Georgia on 4 February. The event came four months after the first KC-130J arrived at Orléans-Bricy Air Base in France in late September 2019.

Prior to receiving its two KC-130Js, France had earlier taken delivery of two ‘stretched’ transport C-130J-30 aircraft. All four aircraft are to be operated by 2/61 “Franche-Comté” 123 at Orléans-Bricy Air Base.

As previously noted by the DGA, the purchase of the four new Hercules is being expedited due to the high operational commitment in North Africa. The arrival of the first KC-130J enabled the air force to immediately undertake aerial refuelling of its Airbus Helicopter H225M Caracal rotorcraft, extending their reach across the Sahel-Sahara region. This was a capability that France had not previously possessed.

The new Hercules aircraft will join the French Air Force’s existing fleet of five C-130H and nine C-130H-30 aircraft. These legacy platforms are currently being upgraded with Flight2 avionics system by Rockwell Collins, Sabena Technics, and Lockheed Martin. The C/KC-130Js will also supplement France’s ageing Transall C-160s until they are retired, helping to offset delays to the Airbus Defence and Space A400M transport aircraft.

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