Armed Forces - RAF Aircraft C130 Hercules



C 130J

The C-130 Hercules is the workhorse of the RAF transport fleet. Over the years it has proved to be a versatile and rugged aircraft, primarily intended for tactical operations including troop carrying, parachuting, supply dropping and aeromedical duties.

The Hercules can operate from short unprepared airstrips, but also possesses the endurance to mount-long range strategic lifts if required.

The aircraft is a derivative of the C 130E used by the United States Air Force, but is fitted with British Avionic equipment, a roller conveyor system for heavy air drops and with more powerful engines. The crew of five (K version) includes, pilot, co pilot, navigator, air engineer and air loadmaster.

As a troop carrier, the Hercules can carry 92 fully armed men, while for airborne operations 64 paratroops can be dispatched in two simultaneous "sticks" through the fuselage side doors. Alternatively, 40 paratroops can jump from the rear loading ramp. As an air ambulance the aircraft can accommodate 74 stretchers. Freight loads that can be parachuted from the aircraft include. 16 x 1 ton containers or 4 x 8,000 pound platforms or 2 x 16,000 pound platforms or 1 x platform of 30,000 pounds plus. Amongst the many combinations of military loads that can be carried in an air landed operation are. 3 x Ferret scout cars plus 30 passengers or 2 x Land Rovers and 30 passengers or 2 x Gazelle helicopters.

Of the original 66 C1 aircraft, some 31 were given a fuselage stretch producing the Mark C3. The C3 "stretched version" provides an additional 37 per cent more cargo space. Refuelling probes have been fitted above the cockpit of both variants and some have received radar warning pods under the wing tips. This is known as the Hercules K and it finally retired from service in late 2013.


RAF Hercules C130J C4/5 deploying an Army Landrover following a tactical landing at RAF Cosford Airshow

The RAF has replaced some of its Hercules K C1/C3 aircraft with second-generation C-130Js on a one-for-one basis. Twenty-five Hercules C4 and C5 aircraft were ordered in December 1994, and the first entered service in 2000.

Deliveries were completed by 2003 at a total cost of just over £1bn.The C4 is the same size as the older Hercules C3 which features a fuselage lengthened by 4.57 m (15ft 0 in) than the original C1.

The Hercules C5 is the new equivalent of the shorter model. With a flight deck crew of two plus one loadmaster, the C-130J can carry up to 128 infantry, 92 paratroops, 8 pallets or 95 medical stretchers.

The C4/C5s has Allison turboprop engines, R391 6-bladed composite propellers and a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). This propulsion system increases take-off thrust by 29 per cent and is 15 per cent more efficient. Consequently, there is no longer a requirement for the external tanks to be fitted. An entirely revised 'glass' flight deck with head-up displays (HUD) and 4 multi-function displays (MFD) replaced many of the dials of the original aircraft. These displays are compatible with night-vision goggles (NVG). MoD figures suggest that there are 24 C-130J in service.

Latest reports suggest that the C-130J will be retired in 2022.

C-130K HERCULES Specifications

Crew 5/6
Capacity 92 troops or 64 paratroops or 74 medical litters
Length C1 29.79m
Length C3 34.69m
Height 11.66m
Span 40.41m
Max Speed 374mph/602kph
Empty Weight 34,287kg Max
Max freight capacity 43,399lb/19,685kg
All -up Weight 45,093kg Max
Service Ceiling 13,075m
Engine 4 x Allison T-56A-15 turboprops.
C-130J HERCULES Specifications (differences from K version)
Crew 2 Pilots and 1 Loadmaster
Engines Four Allison AE 2100D3 turboprops
Max Speed 355kts
Range 3,700nautical miles
Max Altitude 32,00ft
Length 34.34m
Span 40.38m

In service with: (2013)

24 Squadron

6 x Hercules† C-130J

RAF Brize Norton

30 Squadron

6 x Hercules† C-130J

RAF Brize Norton

47 Squadron

6 x Hercules† C-130J

RAF Brize Norton

70 Squadron

6 x Hercules† C-130J

RAF Brize Norton

Photos Copyright Alasdair Taylor