The Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turbopropaircraft, is the main tactical air transport aircraft of the United States and United Kingdom military forces. Capable of landing and taking off from short, rough dirt runways, it is a personnel and cargo hauler and is used in a wide variety of other roles, such as gunships, weather watchers, tankers, firefighters and aerial ambulances. There are more than 40 versions of the Hercules, and it is widely used by more than 50 nations, establishing a long record of reliability and durability, participating in a variety of military, civilian and humanitarian operations and environments.
The KC-130 tanker is equipped with a removable 13,626 L (3600 US gallon) stainless steel fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment providing additional fuel when required. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue aerial refueling pods each transfer up to 19 L/s (300 US gal/min) 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 C-130 was intended to be replaced by USAF's AMST project. However, following AMST's cancellation, the C-130 has remained in production. Today the only production model is the new C-130J.
One of the famous events involving the unique capabilities of the Hercules was the 1976 Entebbe raid, in which Israeli commando forces carried a surprise assault to rescue 103 passengers of a hijacked airliner in Entebbe Airport, Uganda, Africa. Entebbe was 4,000 kilometers from Israel, and the force of 200 soldiers, Jeeps and a black Mercedes car (intended to resemble Idi Amin's vehicle of state) was ferried by 5 participating IAF Hercules aircraft without refueling. On the way back with the freed hostages, they refueled in Nairobi, Kenya.
C-130A Deliveries of the C-130A to the U.S. military began in December 1956. The C-130A was delivered with Allison T56-A-1 turboprops and 3 blade propellers.
C-130B The first B models came on board in April 1959. The B model is known as the sportscar of the fleet because it had no wing tanks and had fully boosted ailerons with 3,000 versus 2,050 lbf/in² (21 versus 14 MPa) on other models. This allowed the B model to have a higher roll rate. The B model was equipped with the T56-A-7 uprated engine and four bladed propellers.
C-130E The extended range E model entered service in 1962. The increased range was achieved by underwing fuel tanks. The E model also featured structural improvements, avionics upgrades and a higher gross weight.
C-130H The H models remains in widespread use with the USAF and many foreign air forces. Initial H model deliveries began in 1964 and remained in production until 1996. An improved C-130H was introduced in 1974. The H model is known as the C-130K in RAF service. The C-130H-30 is a stretched version of the original Hercules, achieved by inserting a 2.54 m plug aft of the cockpit and a 2.03 m plug at the rear of the fuselage.
C-130J The C-130J is the newest version of the Hercules. While externally virtually undistinguishable from the classic Hercules the J model is a radically different aircraft "under the skin." These differences include new Rolls-RoyceAllison AE2100 turobprops with composite propellers, digital avionics, reduced manpower requirements, increased reliability and up to 27% lower operating costs. The C-130J is also available in a standard-length or stretched version (C-130J-30). Lockheed received the launch order for J model from the RAF who ordered 25 aircraft, first deliveries began in 1999. The largest operator of the new model will be the USAF who are ordering the aircraft in increasing numbers.
L-382 The L-382 series are civil variants of the Hercules.