USAF will buy two more C-130Js for airlift in tactical areas

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The United States Air Force [USAF] is set to bolster its tactical airlift capabilities with the acquisition of two more C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. This move follows the House Armed Services Committee’s approval of an amendment to the defense policy bill on May 23. 

Photo credit: USAF

Legislation introduced by Congressman Sam Graves proposes an increase in the fiscal year 2025 procurement funds for the C-130J transport aircraft by $220 million. This funding adjustment would involve reducing the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s operating and maintenance budget by $170 million and the Air Force’s O&M allowance by $50 million.

The C-130J Super Hercules is a tactical airlift aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin. It is an advanced version of the older C-130 Hercules, featuring updated technology and improved performance. The aircraft is widely used by military forces around the world for a variety of missions due to its versatility and reliability. 

Photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear

In terms of dimensions, the C-130J Super Hercules has a wingspan of 132 feet 7 inches [40.4 meters], a length of 97 feet 9 inches [29.8 meters], and a height of 38 feet 10 inches [11.9 meters]. The aircraft’s cargo hold is 41 feet [12.5 meters] long, 9 feet [2.7 meters] high, and 10 feet 3 inches [3.1 meters] wide, providing ample space for a variety of cargo types.

The propulsion system of the C-130J consists of four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines, each producing 4,637 shaft horsepower. These engines are paired with Dowty R391 six-bladed composite propellers, which contribute to the aircraft’s enhanced performance and fuel efficiency. 

Technical characteristics of the C-130J include a maximum takeoff weight of 164,000 pounds [74,389 kilograms] and a maximum payload capacity of 44,000 pounds [19,958 kilograms]. The aircraft has a cruising speed of 348 knots [400 mph or 643 km/h] and a range of approximately 2,071 nautical miles [3,835 kilometers] with a 35,000-pound [15,875-kilogram] payload.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

The avionics suite of the C-130J Super Hercules is state-of-the-art, featuring a fully integrated digital cockpit with head-up displays [HUD], multifunction displays, and advanced navigation and communication systems. The aircraft is equipped with a dual-mission computer system that enhances situational awareness and mission effectiveness. 

Key components of the C-130J include its advanced flight control systems, enhanced cargo-handling systems, and improved defensive systems. The aircraft is also equipped with modern radar and electronic warfare systems, which enhance its survivability in hostile environments.

The C-130J Super Hercules is used for a wide range of tactical missions, including troop transport, medical evacuation, cargo airlift, and airdrop operations. It is also employed in specialized roles such as aerial refueling, search and rescue, and firefighting. Its versatility allows it to operate in diverse environments, from austere airfields to combat zones, making it an invaluable asset to military operations. 

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

“This aircraft can operate from rough, unprepared airstrips, making it the go-to transport for deploying troops and equipment in hostile areas,” the service said.

Designed to replace the aging C-130Es and some C-130Hs, this newer model is more energy-efficient, offers extended range capabilities, and can take off or land in shorter distances, among other enhancements. 

The C-130J platform comes in several variants, including one with an extended fuselage, another for weather reconnaissance, and additional versions for special operations, combat search and rescue, and close air support missions.

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