Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Role Military transport aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Lockheed Martin
First flight 23 August 1954
Introduced December 1957
Status In production, in service
Primary users United States Air Force - United States Marine Corps - Royal Air Force
Number built Over 2,300 as of 2009
Unit cost US$62 million
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, 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 (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol and aerial firefighting. It is the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 60 nations.
During its years of service, the Hercules family has participated in countless military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations. The family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. In 2007, 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 is also the only military aircraft to remain in continuous production for 50 years with its original customer, as the updated C-130J Super Hercules.
The Korean War, which began in June 1950, showed that piston-powered World War II-era transports—C-119 Flying Boxcars, C-47 Skytrains and C-46 Commandos—were inadequate for modern warfare. Thus on 2 February 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 in a cargo compartment that is approximately 41 feet (12 m) long, 9 feet (2.7 m) high, and 10 feet (3.0 m) wide. Unlike transports derived from passenger airliners, it was designed from the ground-up as a combat transport with loading from a ramp at the rear of the fuselage. This innovation for military cargo aircraft was first pioneered on the WW II German Junkers Ju 252 and Ju 253 "Hercules" transport prototypes in WWII. The Boeing C-97 also had a retracting ramp through clamshell doors, but could not be used for airdrops of cargo.
The Hercules also resembled a larger four-engine brother to the C-123 Provider with a similar wing and cargo ramp layout. That plane evolved from the Chase XCG-20 Avitruc, which was first designed and flown as a cargo glider in 1947. The rear ramp not only makes it possible to drive vehicles onto the plane (also possible with forward ramp on a C-124), but to airdrop or use low-altitude extraction for Sheridan tanks or even dropping improvised "daisy cutter" bombs.
A key feature was the introduction of the T56 turboprop, which was first developed specifically for the C-130. At the time, the turboprop was a new application of jet engines that used exhaust gases to turn a shafted propeller, which offered greater range at propeller-driven speeds compared to pure jets, which were faster but thirstier. As was the case on helicopters of that era such as the UH-1 Huey, turboshafts produced much more power for their weight than piston engines. Lockheed would subsequently use the same engines and technology in the Lockheed L-188 Electra. That plane was a disappointment as an airliner, but quite successfully adapted as the P-3 Orion patrol plane where speed and endurance of turboprops excelled.
The new Lockheed cargo plane design possessed a range of 1,100 nmi (1,300 mi; 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 10 designs: Lockheed two, Boeing one, Chase three, Douglas three, and 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.
The Lockheed design team was led by Willis Hawkins, starting with a 130 page proposal for the Lockheed L-206. Hall Hibbard, Lockheed vice president and chief engineer, saw the proposal and directed it to Kelly Johnson, who did not care for the low-speed, unarmed aircraft, and remarked, "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 2 July 1951.
The first flight of the YC-130 prototype was made on 23 August 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.
C-130H Hercules flight deckAfter the two prototypes were completed, production began in Marietta, Georgia, where over 2,300 C-130s have been built through 2009.
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 psi (21 MPa) versus 2,050 psi (14 MPa)—as well as uprated engines and four-bladed propellers that were standard until the J-model's introduction.
The first production C-130s were designated as A-models, with deliveries in 1956 to the 463d Troop Carrier Wing at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma and the 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Sewart AFB, Tennessee. Six additional squadrons were assigned to the 322d 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. Australia became the first non American force to operate the C130A Hercules with 12 examples being delivered during late 1958-early 1959. These aircraft were fitted with three-blade AeroProducts propeller of 15' diameter. As the C-130A became operational with Tactical Air Command (TAC), the C-130'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 Air Base, 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. The A-model was also provided to the South Vietnamese Air Force as part of the Vietnamization program at the end of the war, and equipped three squadrons based at Tan Son Nhut AFB. The last operator in the world is the Honduran Air Force, which is still flying one of five A model Hercs (FAH 558, c/n 3042) as of October 2009.
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 Hamilton Standard 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 Air Force Base and Mactan Air Force Base 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 "daisy cutter" M-121 10,000 lb (4,534 kg) bombs to clear "instant LZs" for helicopters. These would later be used by South Vietnam forces in a last-ditch air support effort to turn back communist troops. 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.
An electronic reconnaissance variant of the C-130B was designated C-130B-II. A total of 13 aircraft were converted and operated under the SUN VALLEY program name. They were operated primarily from Yokota Air Base, Japan. All reverted to standard C-130B cargo aircraft after their replacement in the reconnaissance role by other aircraft. The C-130B-II was distinguished by its false external wing fuel tanks, which were disguised signals intelligence (SIGINT) receiver antennas. These pods were slightly larger than the standard wing tanks found on other C-130Bs. Most aircraft featured a swept blade antenna on the upper fuselage, as well as extra wire antennas between the vertical fin and upper fuselage not found on other C-130s. Radio call numbers on the tail of these aircraft were regularly changed so as to confuse observers and disguise their true mission.
The extended range C-130E model entered service in 1962 after it was 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 1,360 US gal (5,150 L) Sargent Fletcher external fuel tanks under each wing's mid-section and more powerful Allison T56-A-7A turboprops. The hydraulic boost pressure to the ailerons was reduced back to 2050 psi as a consequence of the external tanks weight in the middle of the wingspan. The E model also featured structural improvements, avionics upgrades and a higher gross weight. Australia took delivery of 12 C130E Hercules during 1966-67 to supplement the 12 C-130A models already in service with the RAAF.
C-130F / KC-130F / C-130G models
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 3,600 US gal (13,626 l) stainless steel fuel tank carried inside the cargo compartment. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue aerial refueling pods each transfer up to 300 US gal per minute (19 l per second) 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.
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, with Australia purchasing 12 of type in 1978 to replace the original 12 C-130A models which had first entered RAAF Service in 1958.
The United States Coast Guard employs the HC-130H for long range search and rescue, drug interdiction, illegal migrant patrols, homeland security, and logistics.
C-130H models produced from 1992 to 1996 were designated as C-130H3 by the USAF. The 3 denoting the third variation in design for the H series. Improvements included ring laser gyros for the INUs, GPS receivers, a partial glass cockpit (ADI and HSI instruments), a more capable APN-241 color radar, night vision device compatible instrument lighting, and an integrated radar and missile warning system. The electrical system upgrade included Generator Control Units (GCU) and Bus Switching units (BSU)to provide stable power to the more sensitive upgraded components.
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 in (2.54 m) plug aft of the cockpit and an 80 in (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, where it was classified as the Hercules W.2. This aircraft was heavily modified (with its most prominent feature being the long red and white striped atmospheric probe on the nose and the move of the weather radar into a pod above the forward fuselage). This aircraft, named Snoopy, was withdrawn in 2001 and was then modified by Marshall of Cambridge Aerospace as flight-test bed for the A400M turbine engine, the TP400. 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 MC-130E Combat Talon was developed for the USAF during the Vietnam War to support special operations missions throughout Southeast Asia, and spawned a family of special missions aircraft. 37 of the earliest models currently operating with the United States Special Operations Command are scheduled to be replaced by new-production MC-130J versions. The EC-130 and EC-130H Compass Call are versions also used by Special Operations.
The HC-130P/N is long range search and rescue variant used by the USAF (to include the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard) that was developed from the earlier HC-130P. Equipped for deep deployment of Pararescuemen (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 a New York 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 USN C-130T is similar, but has additional avionics improvements. In both models, aircraft are equipped with Allison T56-A-16 engines. The USMC versions are designated KC-130R or KC-130T when equipped with underwing refueling pods and pylons and are fully night vision system compatible.
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.
The Lockheed L-100 (L-382) is a civilian variant, equivalent to a C-130E model without military equipment. The L-100 also has 2 stretched versions.
Next generationMain article: C-130J Super Hercules
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.
In the 1990s, the improved C-130J Super Hercules was developed by Lockheed (later Lockheed Martin). This model is the newest version and the only model in production. Externally similar to the classic Hercules in general appearance, the J model has new turboprop engines, six-bladed propellers, digital avionics, and other new systems.
Improvements and upgrades
In 2000, Boeing was awarded a US$1.4 billion contract to develop an Avionics Modernization Programme kit for the C-130. The program was beset with delays and cost overruns until project restructuring in 2007. On 2 September 2009, Bloomberg news reported that the planned Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) upgrade to the older C-130s would be dropped to provide more funds for the F-35, CV-22 and airborne tanker replacement programs. However, in June 2010, the Pentagon approved funding for the initial production of the AMP upgrade kits. Under the terms of this agreement, the USAF has cleared Boeing to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) for the C-130 AMP. A total of 198 aircraft are expected to feature the AMP upgrade. The current cost per aircraft is US$14 million although Boeing expects that this price will drop to US$7 million for the 69th aircraft.
For civilian versions
Tactical airlifter basic models
C-130J Super Hercules
Tactical airlifter, with new engines, avionics, and updated systems
Designation for RAF Hercules C1/W2/C3 aircraft (C-130Js in RAF service are the Hercules C.4 and Hercules C.5)
Ski-equipped version for snow and ice operations United States Air Force / Air National Guard
Designation for Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft
EC-130E/J Commando Solo - USAF / Air National Guard psychological operations version
EC-130E - Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC)
EC-130E Rivet Rider - Airborne psychological warfare aircraft
EC-130H Compass Call - Electronic warfare and electronic attack.
EC-130V - Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) variant used by USCG for counter-narcotics missions
Unmanned aerial vehicle control
HC-130B/E/H - Early model combat search and rescue
HC-130P/N Combat King - USAF aerial refueling tanker and combat search and rescue
HC-130J Combat King II - Next generation combat search and rescue tanker
HC-130H/J - USCG long-range surveillance and search and rescue
Temporary conversion for flight test operations
United States Marine Corps aerial refueling tanker and tactical airlifter
USAF / Air National Guard - Ski-equipped version for Arctic and Antarctic support operations.
MC-130E/H Combat Talon I/II - Special operations infiltration/extraction variant
MC-130W Combat Spear/Dragon Spear - Special operations tanker/gunship
MC-130P Combat Shadow - Special operations tanker
YMC-130H - Three modified under Operation Credible Sport for second Iran hostage crisis rescue attempt
Permanent conversion for flight test operations
Surveillance aircraft for reconnaissance
Search and rescue
Weather reconnaissance ("Hurricane Hunter") version for USAF / Air Force Reserve Command in support of the NOAA/National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center
Crew: 5 (two pilots, navigator, flight engineer and loadmaster)
92 passengers or
64 airborne troops or
74 litter patients with 2 medical personnel or
6 pallets or
2–3 HMMWVs or
2 M113 armored personnel carrier
Payload: 45,000 lb (20,000 kg)
Length: 97 ft 9 in (29.8 m)
Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)
Height: 38 ft 3 in (11.6 m)
Wing area: 1,745 ft² (162.1 m²)
Empty weight: 75,800 lb (34,400 kg)
Useful load: 72,000 lb (33,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 155,000 lb (70,300 kg)
Powerplant: 4× Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, 4,590 shp (3,430 kW) each
Maximum speed: 320 knots (366 mph, 592 km/h) at 20,000 ft (6,060 m)
Cruise speed: 292 kn (336 mph, 540 km/h)
Range: 2,050 nmi (2,360 mi, 3,800 km)
Service ceiling: 33,000 ft (10,060 m) empty; 23,000 ft (7,077 m) with 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms) payload ()
Rate of climb: 1,830 ft/min (9.3 m/s)
Takeoff distance: 3,586 ft (1,093 m) at 155,000 lb (70,300 kg) max gross weight; 1,400 ft (427 m) at 80,000 lb (36,300 kg) gross weight
Westinghouse Electronic Systems (now Northrop Grumman) AN/APN-241 weather and navigational radar