C-130 Hercules: Aircraft profile

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Mission

The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules flies a training mission that dropped pallets of simulated supplies at designated points in Alaskan Feb. 1. The C-130 belongs to the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules flies a training mission that dropped pallets of simulated supplies at designated points in Alaskan Feb. 1. The C-130 belongs to the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

The C-130 operates throughout the U.S. Air Force, serving with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command, fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations. Basic and specialized versions of the aircraft airframe perform a diverse number of roles, including airlift support, Antarctic ice resupply, aeromedical missions, weather reconnaissance, aerial spray missions, firefighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service and natural disaster relief missions.

Features

Using its aft loading ramp and door the C-130 can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. In an aerial delivery role, it can airdrop loads up to 42,000 pounds or use its high-flotation landing gear to land and deliver cargo on rough, dirt strips.

The flexible design of the Hercules enables it to be configured for many different missions, allowing for one aircraft to perform the role of many. Much of the special mission equipment added to the Hercules is removable, allowing the aircraft to revert back to its cargo delivery role if desired. Additionally, the C-130 can be rapidly reconfigured for the various types of cargo such as palletized equipment, floor-loaded material, airdrop platforms, container delivery system bundles, vehicles and personnel or aeromedical evacuation.

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules from the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, flies over the Alaska Range during its final flight March 23. After 43 years of continuous service in Alaska, the flight marked the end of the C-130 era at the 517th.C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules from the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, flies over the Alaska Range during its final flight March 23. After 43 years of continuous service in Alaska, the flight marked the end of the C-130 era at the 517th.

The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet and will replace aging C-130E's. The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology to reduce manpower requirements, lower operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models. Compared to older C-130s, the J model climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance. The C-130J-30 is a stretch version, adding 15 feet to fuselage, increasing usable space in the cargo compartment.

C-130J/J-30 major system improvements include: advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics; color multifunctional liquid crystal displays and head-up displays; state-of-the-art navigation systems with dual inertial navigation system and global positioning system; fully integrated defensive systems; low-power color radar; digital moving map display; new turboprop engines with six-bladed, all-composite propellers; digital auto pilot; improved fuel, environmental and ice-protection systems; and an enhanced cargo-handling system.

Background

Four decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 remains in production. The initial production model was the C-130A, with four Allison T56-A-11 or -9 turboprops. A total of 219 were ordered and deliveries began in December 1956. The C-130B introduced Allison T56-A-7 turboprops and the first of 134 entered Air Force service in May 1959.

Introduced in August of 1962, the 389 C-130E's that were ordered used the same Allison T56-A-7 engine, but added two 1,290 gallon external fuel tanks and an increased maximum takeoff weight capability. June 1974 introduced the first of 308 C-130H's with the more powerful Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engine. Nearly identical to the C-130E externally, the new engine brought major performance improvements to the aircraft.

The latest C-130 to be produced, the C-130J entered the inventory in February 1999. With the noticeable difference of a six-bladed composite propeller coupled to a Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine, the C-130J brings substantial performance improvements over all previous models, and has allowed the introduction of the C-130J-30, a stretch version with a 15-foot fuselage extension. To date, the Air Force has taken delivery of 37 C-130J aircraft from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Global airlift
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
Power Plant:
C-130E: Four Allison T56-A-7 turboprops; 4,200 prop shaft horsepower
C-130H: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops; 4,591prop shaft horsepower
C-130J: Four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops; 4,700 horsepower
Length: C-130E/H/J: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.3 meters)
C-130J-30: 112 feet, 9 inches (34.69 meters)
Height: 38 feet, 10 inches (11. 9 meters)
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (39.7 meters)
Cargo Compartment:
C-130E/H/J: length, 40 feet (12.31 meters); width, 119 inches (3.12 meters); height, 9 feet (2.74 meters). Rear ramp: length, 123 inches (3.12 meters); width, 119 inches (3.02 meters)
C-130J-30: length, 55 feet (16.9 meters); width, 119 inches (3.12 meters); height, 9 feet (2.74 meters). Rear ramp: length, 123 inches (3.12 meters); width, 119 inches (3.02 meters)
Speed:
C-130E: 345 mph/300 ktas (Mach 0.49) at 20,000 feet (6,060 meters)
C-130H: 366 mph/318 ktas (Mach 0.52) at 20,000 feet (6,060 meters)
C-130J: 417 mph/362 ktas (Mach 0.59) at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters)
C-130J-30: 410 mph/356 ktas (Mach 0.58) at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters)
Ceiling:
C-130J: 28,000 feet (8,615 meters) with 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms) payload
C-130J-30: 26,000 feet (8,000 meters) with 44,500 pounds (20,227 kilograms) payload.
C-130H: 23,000 feet (7,077 meters) with 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms) payload.
C-130E: 19,000 feet (5,846 meters) with 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms) payload
Maximum Takeoff Weight:
C-130E/H/J: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
C-130J-30: 164,000 pounds (74,393 kilograms)
Maximum Allowable Payload:
C-130E, 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms)
C-130H, 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms)
C-130J, 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms)
C-130J-30, 44,000 (19,958 kilograms)
Maximum Normal Payload:
C-130E, 36,500 pounds (16,590 kilograms)
C-130H, 36,500 pounds (16,590 kilograms)
C-130J, 34,000 pounds (15,422 kilograms)
C-130J-30, 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms)
Range at Maximum Normal Payload:
C-130E, 1,150 miles (1,000 nautical miles)
C-130H, 1,208 miles (1,050 nautical miles)
C-130J, 2,071 miles (1,800 nautical miles)
C-130J-30, 1,956 miles (1,700 nautical miles)
Range with 35,000 pounds of Payload:
C-130E, 1,438 miles (1,250 nautical miles)
C-130H, 1,496 miles (1,300 nautical miles)
C-130J, 1,841 miles (1,600 nautical miles)
C-130J-30, 2,417 miles (2,100 nautical miles)
Maximum Load:
C-130E/H/J: 6 pallets or 74 litters or 16 CDS bundles or 92 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, or a combination of any of these up to the cargo compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight.
C-130J-30: 8 pallets or 97 litters or 24 CDS bundles or 128 combat troops or 92 paratroopers, or a combination of any of these up to the cargo compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight.
Crew: C-130E/H: Five (two pilots, navigator, flight engineer and loadmaster)
C-130J/J-30: Three (two pilots and loadmaster)
Aeromedical Evacuation Role: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians) is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be decreased or increased as required by the needs of patients.
Unit Cost: C-130E, $11.9, C-130H, $30.1, C-130J, $48.5 (FY 1998 constant dollars in millions)
Date Deployed: C-130A, Dec 1956; C-130B, May 1959; C-130E, Aug 1962; C-130H, Jun 1974; C-130J, Feb 1999
Inventory: Active force, 186; Air National Guard, 222; Air Force Reserve, 106

Source: USAF

Detailed background:

Source: wikipedia.org

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft built by Lockheed. It is the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 50 nations. In December 2006 the C-130 became the fifth aircraft—after the English Electric Canberra, B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95, and KC-135 Stratotanker—to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case the United States Air Force. The C-130 remains in production as the updated C-130J Super Hercules.

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules flies a training mission over Alaska Feb. 1. The C-130 belongs to the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. The 517th AS will replace its fleet of C-130s with the C-17 Globemaster III in 2007.C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules flies a training mission over Alaska Feb. 1. The C-130 belongs to the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. The 517th AS will replace its fleet of C-130s with the C-17 Globemaster III in 2007.

Capable of takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship, for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling and aerial firefighting. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 50 years of service the family has participated in military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations.

Development

The Korean War, which began in June, 1950, showed that World War II-era transports—C-119 Flying Boxcars, C-47 Skytrains and C-46 Commandos—were inadequate for modern warfare. Thus on February 2, 1951, the United States Air Force issued a General Operating Requirement (GOR) for a new transport to Boeing, Douglas, Fairchild, Lockheed, Martin, Chase Aircraft, North American Northrop, and Airlifts Inc. The new transport would have a capacity for 92 passengers, 72 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, a range of 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km), takeoff capability from short and unprepared strips, and the ability to fly with one engine shut down.

Fairchild, North American, Martin and Northrop declined to participate. The remaining five companies tendered a total of ten designs: Lockheed two, Boeing one, Chase three, Douglas three, Airlifts Inc. one. The contest was a close affair between the lighter of the two Lockheed (preliminary project designation L-206) proposals and a four-turboprop Douglas design.

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules from the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing banks hard over the Mille Lacs Lake area in northern Minnesota during a training mission Aug. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules from the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing banks hard over the Mille Lacs Lake area in northern Minnesota during a training mission Aug. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)

The Lockheed design team was led by Willis Hawkins, starting with a 130 page proposal for the Lockheed L-206, and another two-turboprop and heavier one. Hall Hibbard, Lockheed vice president and chief engineer, saw the proposal and directed it to Kelly Johnson, who remarked when he saw the proposal, "If you sign that letter, you will destroy the Lockheed Company." Both Hibbard and Johnson signed the proposal and the company won the contract for the now-designated Model 82 on July 2, 1951. First flight

The first flight of the YC-130 prototype was made on August 23, 1954 from the Lockheed plant in Burbank, California. The aircraft, serial number 53-3397, was the second prototype but the first of the two to fly. The YC-130 was piloted by Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer on its 61-minute flight to Edwards Air Force Base; Jack Real and Dick Stanton served as flight engineers. Kelly Johnson flew chase in a P2V Neptune. Production

After the two prototypes were completed, production began in Marietta, Georgia, where more than 2,000 C-130s have been built.

The initial production model, the C-130A, was powered by Allison T56-A-9 turboprops with three-blade propellers. Deliveries began in December 1956, continuing until the introduction of the C-130B model in 1959. Some A models were re-designated C-130D after being equipped with skis. The newer C-130B had ailerons with increased boost — 3,000 versus 2,050 lbf/in² (21 versus 14 MPa) — as well as uprated engines and four-bladed propellers that were standard until the "J" model's introduction.

C-130A Model

The first production C-130s were designated as A-models, with deliveries to the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma and the 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Sewart AFB, Tennessee. Six additional squadrons were assigned to the 322nd Air Division in Europe and the 315th Air Division in the Far East. Additional airplanes were modified for electronics intelligence work and assigned to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany while modified RC-130As were assigned to the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) photo-mapping division. Airplanes equipped with giant skis were designated as C-130Ds, but were essentially A-models except for the conversion. As the C-130A became operational with Tactical Air Command (TAC), the airplane's lack of range became apparent and additional fuel capacity was added in the form of external pylon-mounted tanks at the end of the wings. The A-model continued in service through the Vietnam War, where the airplanes assigned to the four squadrons at Naha AB, Okinawa and one at Tachikawa AB, Japan performed yeoman's service, including operating highly classified special operations missions such as the BLIND BAT FAC/Flare mission and FACT SHEET leaflet mission over Laos and North Vietnam.

C-130B Model

The C-130B model was developed to complement the A-models that had previously been delivered,and incorporated new features, particularly increased fuel capacity in the form of auxiliary tanks built into the center wing section and an AC electrical system. Four-bladed Hartzell propellers replaced the Aero Product three-bladed propellers that distinguished the earlier A-models. B-models replaced A-models in the 314th and 463rd Troop Carrier Wings. During the Vietnam War four squadrons assigned to the 463rd Troop Carrier/Tactical Airlift Wing based at Clark and Mactan Air Fields in the Philippines were used primarily for tactical airlift operations in South Vietnam. In the spring of 1969 463rd crews commenced COMMANDO VAULT bombing missions dropping M-121 10,000 pound bombs to clear "instant LZs" for helicopters. As the Vietnam War wound down, the 463rd B-models and A-models of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing were transferred back to the United States where most were assigned to Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units. Another prominent role for the B-model was with the United States Marine Corps, where Hercules initially designated as GV-1s replaced C-119s. After Air Force C-130Ds proved the type's usefulness in Antarctica, the US Navy purchased a number of B-models equipped with skis that were designated as LC-130s.

C-130E model

The extended range C-130E model entered service in 1962 after it developed as an interim long-range transport for the Military Air Transport Service. Essentially a B-model, the new designation was the result of the installation of 5,150 liter (1,360 US gallon) fuel tanks under each wing. (center-section) wing-mounted auxiliary fuel tanks and more powerful Allison T-56-A-7A turboprops. The E model also featured structural improvements, avionics upgrades and a higher gross weight.

The KC-130 tankers, originally C-130Fs procured for the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 1958 (under the designation GV-1) are equipped with a removable 13,626 liter (3600 US gallon) stainless steel fuel tank carried inside the cargo compartment. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue aerial refueling pods each transfer up to 19 liters per second (equivalent to 300 US gallons per minute) to two aircraft simultaneously, allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations, (a typical tanker formation of four aircraft in less than 30 minutes). The US Navy's C-130G has increased structural strength allowing higher gross weight operation.

C-130H model

The C-130H model has updated Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, a redesigned outer wing, updated avionics and other minor improvements. Later H models had a new, fatigue-life-improved, center wing that was retro-fitted to many earlier H-models. The H model remains in widespread use with the US Air Force (USAF) and many foreign air forces. Initial deliveries began in 1964 (to the RNZAF), remaining in production until 1996. An improved C-130H was introduced in 1974.

From 1992 to 1996 the C-130H was described as a C-130H3 by the USAF. The 3 denoting the third variation in design for the H series. Improvements included a partial glass cockpit (ADI and HSI instruments), a more capable APN-241 color radar, night vision device compatible instrument lighting and an improved electrical system using Bus Switching Units to provide 'clean' power to the more sensitive upgraded components.

C-130K model

The equivalent model for export to the UK is the C-130K, known by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as the Hercules C.1. The C-130H-30 (Hercules C.3 in RAF service) is a stretched version of the original Hercules, achieved by inserting a 100-inch (2.54 m) plug aft of the cockpit and an 80-inch (2.03 m) plug at the rear of the fuselage. A single C-130K was purchased by the Met Office for use by its Meteorological Research Flight. This aircraft was heavily modified (with its most prominent feature being the long red and white striped atmospheric probe on the nose) to the extent that it was given the designation W.2, to differentiate it from the ordinary C.1. This aircraft, named Snoopy, was withdrawn in 2001. The C-130K is used by the RAF Falcons for parachute drops. Three C-130K (Hercules C Mk.1P) were upgraded and sold to the Austrian Air Force in 2002. Later C-130 models & variants

The HC-130N & P are long range search and rescue variants used by the USAF, to include the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard. Equipped for deep deployment of pararescue men (PJs), survival equipment, and aerial refueling of combat rescue helicopters, HC-130s are usually the on-scene command aircraft for combat SAR missions. Early versions were equipped with the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, designed to pull a person off the ground using a wire strung from a helium balloon. The John Wayne movie The Green Berets features its use. The Fulton system was later removed when aerial refueling of helicopters proved safer and more versatile. The movie The Perfect Storm depicts a real life SAR mission involving aerial refueling of a New York Air National Guard HH-60G by an Air National Guard HC-130P.

The C-130R and C-130T are US Navy and USMC models, both equipped with underwing external fuel tanks. The C-130T is similar, but has numerous avionics improvements over the R model and is fully night-vision system compatible. In both models, USMC aircraft are equipped with Allison T-56-A-16 engines. The USMC versions are designated KC-130R or KC-130T when equipped with underwing refueling pods and pylons.

The RC-130 is a reconnaissance version. A single example is used by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, the aircraft having originally been sold to the former Imperial Iranian Air Force.

Civilian models

The Lockheed L-100 (L-382) is a civilian variant, equivalent to a C-130E model without pylon tanks or military equipment. The L-100 also has 2 stretched versions: the L-100-20 has an 8.3 ft (2.5 m) fuselage stretch and the L-100-30 is stretched by 15 ft (4.6 m). The L-100 has not seen widespread use in the civilian market.

Next generation

In the 1970s Lockheed proposed a C-130 variant with turbofan engines rather than turboprops, but the US Air Force preferred the takeoff performance of the existing aircraft. In the 1980s the C-130 was intended to be replaced by the Advanced Medium STOL Transport project. The project was canceled and the C-130 has remained in production.

C-130J model

The C-130J is the newest version of the Hercules and the only model still produced. Externally similar to the classic Hercules in general appearance, the J model has new turboprops, digital avionics, and other new systems.

Operational history

The Hercules holds the record for the largest and heaviest aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier. In October and November 1963, a USMC KC-130F (BuNo 149798), bailed to the US Naval Air Test Center, made 21 unarrested landings and take-offs on the USS Forrestal at a number of different weights. The pilot, LT (later RADM) James Flatley III, USN, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation. The tests were highly successful, but the idea was considered too risky for routine "Carrier Onboard Delivery" (COD) operations. Instead, the C-2 Greyhound was developed as a dedicated COD aircraft. (The Hercules used in the test, most recently in service with Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) until 2005, is now part of the collection of the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola, Florida.)

While the C-130 is involved in cargo and resupply operations daily, it has been a part of some notable offensive operations:

The AC-130 also holds the record for the longest sustained flight by a C-130. From 22 October to 24 October 1997, two AC-130U gunships flew 36.0 hours nonstop from Hurlburt Field Florida to Taegu (Daegu) South Korea while being refueled 7 times by KC-135 tanker aircraft. This record flight shattered the previous record longest flight by over 10 hours while the 2 gunships took on 410,000 lbs of fuel. With the exception of 'Eldorado Canyon' the U.S. raid on Libya, the gunship has been used in every U.S. combat operation since Vietnam.

The MC-130 Combat Talon variant carries and deploys what are currently the world's largest conventional bombs, the BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter" and GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, also known as the MOAB. Daisy Cutters were used during the Vietnam War to clear landing zones for helicopters and to eliminate minefields and have recently even been proposed for anti-personnel use. The weight and size of the weapons make it impossible or impractical to load them on conventional bombers. The GBU-43/B MOAB is a successor to the BLU-82 and can perform the same function, as well as perform strike functions against hardened targets in a low air threat environment.

In the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Pakistan Air Force modified/improvised several aircraft for use as heavy bombers, and attacks were made on enemy bridges and troop concentrations with some notable successes. No aircraft were lost in the operations, though one was slightly damaged.

It was also used in the 1976 Entebbe raid in which Israeli commando forces carried a surprise assault to rescue 103 passengers of an airliner hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists at Entebbe Airport, Uganda. The rescue force — 200 soldiers, jeeps, and a black Mercedes-Benz (intended to resemble Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin's vehicle of state) — was flown 4,000 kilometres (2,160 nmi) from Israel to Entebbe by five Israeli Air Force (IAF) Hercules aircraft without mid-air refueling (on the way back, the planes refueled in Nairobi, Kenya).

During the Falklands War of 1982, Argentine Air Force C-130s undertook highly dangerous, daily re-supply flights to the Argentine garrison on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Only one was lost during the war. Argentina also operated two KC-130s refuellers during the war, and these refueled the Skyhawk attack planes which sank the British frigate HMS Antelope. The British also used their C-130s to support their logistical operations.

During the Gulf War of 1991, the C-130 Hercules was used operationally by the US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps, and the air forces of Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the UK.

During the invasion of Afghanistan and in support of the International Security Assistance Force, the C-130 Hercules was used operationally by Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, the UK and the United States.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the C-130 Hercules was used operationally by Australia, the UK and the United States. After the initial invasion, C-130 operators as part of the Multinational force in Iraq used their C-130s to support their forces in Iraq.

One RAF C-130 was shot down on 30th January 2005, when an Iraqi insurgent brought it down firing with a ZU-23 anti-aircraft artillery gun while the plane was flying at 50 meters after it had dropped SAS special forces paratroopers.

A prominent C-130T aircraft is Fat Albert, the support aircraft for the US Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. Although Fat Albert supports a Navy squadron, it is operated by the US Marine Corps (USMC) and its crew consists solely of USMC personnel. At some air shows featuring the team, Fat Albert takes part, performing flyovers and sometimes demonstrating its jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) capabilities.

Civilian uses

In the late 1980s, 22 retired USAF C-130As were removed from storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and transferred to the U.S. Forest Service who then sold them to six private companies to be converted into airtankers for use in fighting wildfires (see U.S. Forest Service airtanker scandal). After one of these aircraft crashed due to wing separation in flight as a result of fatigue stress cracking, the entire fleet of C-130A airtankers was permanently grounded in 2004. (See 2002 airtanker crashes.)

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules was hired to carry a 530 lb (240 kg) patient because there were no ambulances or planes big enough to transport her. Even though the woman was deemed well enough to travel by road from Mt Isa to Townsville, the Queensland Ambulance Service had no vehicles to carry her. Variants

Military variants

Significant military variants of the C-130 include:

* C-130A/B/E/F/G/H/T tactical airlifter
* C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter, with new engines, avionics, and updated systems
* AC-130A/E/H/U gunship
* C-130D/D-6 ski-equipped version for snow & ice operations US Air Force / Air National Guard
* DC-130 and GC-130 drone control
* EC-130E/J Commando Solo USAF / Air National Guard Psychological operations version
* EC-130E Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC)
* EC-130H Compass Call, electronic warfare and electronic attack.
* HC-130H/N/P special operations air-to-air refueling tanker, long-range surveillance, search and rescue
* JC-130 and NC-130 temporary and permanent conversion for flight test operations
* KC-130F/J/R/T United States Marine Corps aerial refueling tanker and tactical airlifter
* LC-130F/H/R USAF / Air National Guard ski-equipped version for Arctic & Antarctic support operations. Formerly operated by the United States Navy's Antarctic Development Squadron SIX (VXE-6) in support of the National Science Foundation
* MC-130E/H Combat Talon I/II (special operations)
* MC-130W Combat Spear (special operations)
* MC-130P Combat Shadow (special operations)
* YMC-130H three modified for planned Iran hostage crisis rescue attempt under Operation Credible Sport
* PC-130 maritime patrol
* RC-130 reconnaissance
* SC-130 search and rescue
* TC-130 aircrew training
* VC-130 VIP transport
* WC-130A/B/E/H/J weather reconnaissance ("Hurricane Hunter") version for USAF / Air Force Reserve Command in support of the NOAA/National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center
* CC-130E/H Hercules - designation for Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft
* C-130K Hercules designation for Royal Air Force Hercules C1/C2/C3 aircraft

Civilian variants

* L-100 - Civilian version, equivalent to the C-130E
* L-100-20 - Civilian version, stretched 8.3 feet (2.5 m)
* L-100-30 - Civilian version, stretched 15 feet (4.6 m)

Operational losses

The C-130 is generally a highly reliable aircraft. The Royal Air Force recorded an accident rate of about one aircraft loss per 250,000 flying hours over the last forty years, making it one of the safest aircraft they operate (alongside Vickers VC10s and Lockheed Tristars with no flying losses). However, more than 15 percent of the 2,350-plus production has been lost, including 70 by the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps while serving in the war in Southeast Asia. By the nature of the Hercules' worldwide service, the pattern of losses provides an interesting barometer of the global hot spots over the past fifty years, including Iraq.

More photos:

C-130 Hercules: A C-130J Hercules flying over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Sunday, April 30, 2006, deploys a drogue parachute that will extract a Type 5 heavy pallet. The mission was part of a test to certify the aircraft's capability to drop this type of pallet. Guard, Reserve and active-duty aircrews from Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and Keesler AFB, Miss., participated in the certification. This was the first time the "J" model dropped this type of pallet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dave Buttner)C-130 Hercules: A C-130J Hercules flying over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Sunday, April 30, 2006, deploys a drogue parachute that will extract a Type 5 heavy pallet. The mission was part of a test to certify the aircraft's capability to drop this type of pallet. Guard, Reserve and active-duty aircrews from Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and Keesler AFB, Miss., participated in the certification. This was the first time the "J" model dropped this type of pallet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dave Buttner)

C-130 Hercules: A Type 5 heavy pallet is extracted from a C-130J Hercules flying over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Sunday, April 30, 2006. The mission was part of a test to certify the aircraft's capability to drop this type of pallet. Guard, Reserve and active-duty aircrews from Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and Keesler AFB, Miss., participated in the certification. This was the first time the "J" model dropped a Type 5 pallet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dave Buttner)C-130 Hercules: A Type 5 heavy pallet is extracted from a C-130J Hercules flying over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Sunday, April 30, 2006. The mission was part of a test to certify the aircraft's capability to drop this type of pallet. Guard, Reserve and active-duty aircrews from Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and Keesler AFB, Miss., participated in the certification. This was the first time the "J" model dropped a Type 5 pallet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dave Buttner)

C-130 Hercules: A C-130J Hercules from the Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Island ANG Base, Calif., flies along the coast of Santa Cruz Island near California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Goff)C-130 Hercules: A C-130J Hercules from the Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Island ANG Base, Calif., flies along the coast of Santa Cruz Island near California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Goff)

C-130 Hercules: A C-130J Hercules is cleaned up in the new wash system at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Aircraft from the Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing fly many hours over the Gulf of Mexico. Salt and moisture could lead to corrosion if aircraft are not kept clean. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Jame Pritchett)C-130 Hercules: A C-130J Hercules is cleaned up in the new wash system at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Aircraft from the Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing fly many hours over the Gulf of Mexico. Salt and moisture could lead to corrosion if aircraft are not kept clean. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Jame Pritchett)

C-130 Hercules: Chief Master Sgt. Michael Scaffidi guides a Medium Extended Air Defense System onto a C-130J Hercules during a demonstration of the aircraft's interoperability at the Berlin Air Show. Various models of U.S. military aircraft and about 60 support personnel from bases in Europe and the United States are attending the air show at Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport May 16-21. Chief Scaffidi is a loadmaster assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Wolfgang Hofmann)C-130 Hercules: Chief Master Sgt. Michael Scaffidi guides a Medium Extended Air Defense System onto a C-130J Hercules during a demonstration of the aircraft's interoperability at the Berlin Air Show. Various models of U.S. military aircraft and about 60 support personnel from bases in Europe and the United States are attending the air show at Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport May 16-21. Chief Scaffidi is a loadmaster assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Wolfgang Hofmann)

C-130 Hercules: Lightning strikes near the control tower and a taxing C-130 Hercules at Balad Air Base, Iraq, on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. Balad handles more than 750 cargo flights each month and is the Department of Defense's busiest single runway. Using C-130s to fly in-theater airlift missions has reduced the number of ground convoys and troops exposed to roadside bomb attacks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Croxon)C-130 Hercules: Lightning strikes near the control tower and a taxing C-130 Hercules at Balad Air Base, Iraq, on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. Balad handles more than 750 cargo flights each month and is the Department of Defense's busiest single runway. Using C-130s to fly in-theater airlift missions has reduced the number of ground convoys and troops exposed to roadside bomb attacks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Croxon)

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules taxies down the runway May 24 after landing at Kampong Chhnang Province Airfield, Cambodia. This mission delivered 3,000 pounds of medical supplies for two separate operating locations in Cambodia in support of Operation Pacific Angel, a joint/combined humanitarian assistance operation in support of capacity-building efforts. Participating services include the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components of the Air Force, Army, Royal Thai air force, and Royal Cambodian armed forces. The C-130 is from the 144th Airlift Squadron from Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules taxies down the runway May 24 after landing at Kampong Chhnang Province Airfield, Cambodia. This mission delivered 3,000 pounds of medical supplies for two separate operating locations in Cambodia in support of Operation Pacific Angel, a joint/combined humanitarian assistance operation in support of capacity-building efforts. Participating services include the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components of the Air Force, Army, Royal Thai air force, and Royal Cambodian armed forces. The C-130 is from the 144th Airlift Squadron from Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules cargo plane performs a tactical landing on a dirt strip at the Sicily Landing Zone on Fort Bragg, N.C. Paratroopers re-enacted a D-Day jump to the zone. The C-130 is assigned to the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian E. Christiansen)C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules cargo plane performs a tactical landing on a dirt strip at the Sicily Landing Zone on Fort Bragg, N.C. Paratroopers re-enacted a D-Day jump to the zone. The C-130 is assigned to the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian E. Christiansen)

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules conducts a precision air drop for a NATO-sponsored Precision Airdrop Capabilities demonstration at the Centre d'Essais Lancement de Missiles at Biscarrosee and at Cazaux Air Base, France. The C-130 and its crew were from Ramstein AB, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo)C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules conducts a precision air drop for a NATO-sponsored Precision Airdrop Capabilities demonstration at the Centre d'Essais Lancement de Missiles at Biscarrosee and at Cazaux Air Base, France. The C-130 and its crew were from Ramstein AB, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo)

C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., equipped with the modular airborne firefighting system, taxies to the runway at McClellan Airfield, Calif., July 5 to begin firefighting operations. Aircraft from the 302nd AW are conducting firefighting support missions as part of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hector Garcia)C-130 Hercules: A C-130 Hercules from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., equipped with the modular airborne firefighting system, taxies to the runway at McClellan Airfield, Calif., July 5 to begin firefighting operations. Aircraft from the 302nd AW are conducting firefighting support missions as part of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hector Garcia)

C-130 Hercules takeoff: A C-130 Hercules from the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing equipped with the modular airborne firefighting system takes off from McClellan Airfield, Calif., on a firefighting support mission. A continuing heat wave and an ongoing need for aircraft to support ground firefighters will likely keep Department of Defense aircraft very busy for the foreseeable future in support of the national wildland firefighting effort. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Hector Garcia)C-130 Hercules takeoff: A C-130 Hercules from the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing equipped with the modular airborne firefighting system takes off from McClellan Airfield, Calif., on a firefighting support mission. A continuing heat wave and an ongoing need for aircraft to support ground firefighters will likely keep Department of Defense aircraft very busy for the foreseeable future in support of the national wildland firefighting effort. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Hector Garcia)

C-130 Hercules: Maintenance and explosive ordnance disposal personnel from the 447th Air Expeditionary Group prepare to place explosive charges on the wings of a C-130 Hercules aircraft that are designed to divide the plane into smaller sections so it can be moved July 7 in Baghdad, Iraq. The C-130 made an emergency landing in a field north of the Baghdad International Airport shortly after take-off on June 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)C-130 Hercules: Maintenance and explosive ordnance disposal personnel from the 447th Air Expeditionary Group prepare to place explosive charges on the wings of a C-130 Hercules aircraft that are designed to divide the plane into smaller sections so it can be moved July 7 in Baghdad, Iraq. The C-130 made an emergency landing in a field north of the Baghdad International Airport shortly after take-off on June 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

C-130 Hercules: Civil engineers from Sather Air Base, Iraq, use controlled detonations July 7 to separate the forward section of a badly damaged C-130 Hercules so it can be moved. The C-130 made an emergency landing in a field north of Baghdad International Airport shortly after take-off June 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)C-130 Hercules: Civil engineers from Sather Air Base, Iraq, use controlled detonations July 7 to separate the forward section of a badly damaged C-130 Hercules so it can be moved. The C-130 made an emergency landing in a field north of Baghdad International Airport shortly after take-off June 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

C-130 Hercules: FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AFPN) -- Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division jump in the 8th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop. The event collects toys for the children of military families here and at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., as well as those in the surrounding communities. Paratroopers participated by donating a toy in exchange for a chance to jump with German and Irish military jumpers. To date, Operation Toy Drop has collected and distributed more than 14,000 toys. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Veronica Fullwood)C-130 Hercules: FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AFPN) -- Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division jump in the 8th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop. The event collects toys for the children of military families here and at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., as well as those in the surrounding communities. Paratroopers participated by donating a toy in exchange for a chance to jump with German and Irish military jumpers. To date, Operation Toy Drop has collected and distributed more than 14,000 toys. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Veronica Fullwood)

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