50 Years of Hercules

As utilitarian as a bucket and just as plain, Lockheed’s C-130 has flown almost everything to almost everywhere.

Resplendent in U.S. Navy Blue Angels livery, a Marine Corps C-130T fires its jet-assisted takeoff bottles, which add 8,000 pounds of thrust for a super-short takeoff. (Saul McSween/U.S. Navy)
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Already the Super Hercules seems to be everywhere. When British Prime Minister Tony Blair set foot in Basra in May 2003, it was from the ramp of a Royal Air Force C-130J. An Italian Super Herk took the exiled king of Afghanistan back to Kabul in April 2002. As for the future, there seems to be no competitor in sight. Most people believe the Hercules production line in Marietta will celebrate a diamond jubilee. Around U.S. Air Materiel Command, it’s said that when they fly the last McDonnell Douglas/Boeing C-17 transport to the boneyard—the last batch of which is slated for production in 2008—the crew will fly back aboard a Hercules.

Sidebar: Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules: 50 Years of Airlift Heritage

THE C-130J IS THE MOST RECENT AND ADVANCED version of Lockheed Martin’s legendary airlifter, which the company has sold to 60 nations. Designed around a crew of three through use of extensive digital automation, sensors, and mission-management systems, it is available in two versions, the J, with a 40-foot cabin, and the J-30, which has a 55-foot cargo hold that provides seats for up to 92 paratroopers and capacity for seven cargo pallets. It is fully night-mission-capable and can deliver cargo with pinpoint accuracy using its aerial delivery radar system and mission computers. The Super Hercules can refuel in the air and is delivered with an integrated defensive electronics system that senses and counters radar and infrared missiles with jamming and automatic chaff and flare dispensers. For more information, browse http://www.lmasc.lmco.com/busdev/airlift/c130/c130j.html

Glass cockpit

-Two-pilot flight deck, all-digital, liquid-crystal displays
-Dual mission computers
-Lighting compatible with night-vision goggles
-Holographic head-up displays
-Digital moving map display
-Laser-gyro inertial/GPS satellite/radio-frequency navigation management
-Built-in test equipment/maintenance fault recorder

Crew 3 (2 pilots, 1 loadmaster)
Range 3,265 miles
Maximum ceiling 30,560 feet
Maximum cruise 401 mph (348 knots)
Maximum-performance takeoff run 1,800 feet
Landing distance 1,400 feet
Cabin volume J: 4,551 cubic feet; J-30: 6,022 cubic feet

Advanced systems
-Hydraulics: 3,000 pounds per square inch
-Inflight refueling
-Electrical power: 5 AC 40-kilowatt alternators
-All-weather day/night precision radar-based automatic cargo delivery
-Cabin pressurization: 7.5 pounds per square inch
-Integrated defense system
-Dual-rail cargo system for pallets/containers
-Digital autopilot with autothrottle

Rolls-Royce AE 2100 turboprop engine
-4,591 shaft horsepower
-Weight: 1,640 pounds
-Two shafts, 14-stage compressor
-Dual full-authority digital engine control
-Matched with six-blade Dowty R391 propeller

About Carl A. Posey

Novelist and award-winning science writer Carl A. Posey was the author of seven published novels, a number of non-fiction books, and dozens of magazine articles. He was a licensed pilot and an Air & Space magazine contributor for more than 30 years, beginning with its second issue in 1986. Posey died on February 9, 2018.

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