The C-130J: New Hercules & Old Bottlenecks

June 21/24: Lockheed Martin has achieved a significant milestone in tactical airlift with the delivery of the 2,700th C-130 Hercules aircraft. This landmark aircraft, a KC-130J Super Hercules tanker variant, joins the U.S. Marine Corps Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. Notably, this delivery coincides with the C-130’s 70th anniversary of first flight this year, further highlighting the enduring legacy of this versatile military transport aircraft. The C-130 Hercules, first introduced in 1954, has become a ubiquitous workhorse in military aviation circles. Renowned for its unmatched versatility and rugged performance, the C-130 operates in over 70 countries, supporting a diverse array of missions ranging from troop transport and cargo delivery to aerial assault and medical evacuation.

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RAAF C-130J-30, flares (click to view full) The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs? C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS […]

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