The C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft is the workhorse of the RAF’s Air Transport
(AT) fleet and is based at RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire, where it is operated by Nos 24, 30, 47 and
70 Squadrons. Also based at RAF Lyneham is No 57(R) Squadron, which is the Hercules Operational Conversion Unit. The fleet totals 50 aircraft and is a mixture of CMk1/CMk3 aircraft and the new C-130J aircraft, designated CMk4/CMk5.
C-130 CMk1 Hercules and C-130 Mk3 Hercules
The C-130 CMk1 Hercules and C-130 Mk3 Hercules aircraft are used primarily to carry troops, passengers or freight and are capable of carrying up to 128 passengers, or 20 tonnes of palletised freight or vehicles, for up to 2000nmls. The freight bay can accommodate a range of wheeled or tracked vehicles, or up to seven palettes of general freight.
In the aeromedical evacuation role either 64 or 82 stretchers can be carried, depending on the mark of aircraft and the stretcher configuration. The maximum unrefuelled ferry range is 3500nmls, which can be extended to over 4000nmls by air refuelling. The other main role of the C-130 is Transport Support (TS), which is the airborne delivery of personnel or stores by airdrop. In this role the aircraft supports airborne operations conducted by 16 Air Assault Brigade by the aerial delivery of paratroops, stores and equipment. The aircraft is particularly valuable in its TS role as it can be operated from unprepared and semiprepared surfaces by day or by night.
The majority of aircraft are fitted with defensive Infrared counter-measure equipment, whilst some aircraft used for special tasks have an additional, enhanced defensive-aids suite comprising a Skyguardian radar-warning receiver, a chaff and flare counter-measure dispensing system and a missile approach warning system. The CMk3 is also equipped with station keeping equipment, which enables the aircraft to maintain its airborne position in a large formation in thick cloud or bad weather where the other formation members cannot be seen. The aircraft are receiving an ongoing avionics, electrical and structural upgrade, which will enable them to remain the workhorse of the AT fleet into the next decade.
C-130 CMk4 Hercules and C-130 CMk5 Hercules
A total of 25 C-130 CMk1 Hercules Aircraft and C-130 CMk3 Hercules Aircraft are being replaced by the C-130J CMk4/CMk5 on a one-for-one basis. The CMk4 is almost the same size as the current CMk3 aircraft, but with a slightly longer fuselage, while the CMk5 is the same size as the CMk1. The C-130J has been modified and upgraded to include new Allison AE turboprop engines and Dowty Aerospace sixbladed composite propellers.
The new engines and advanced propellers, coupled with a new digital enginecontrol system, give the C-130J increased take-off thrust and better fuel efficiency; thus the external fuel tanks have been omitted. The aircraft also has a revised flight deck with modern glass-cockpit and head-up displays, allowing two-pilot, flight deck operation. The cockpit is fully night-vision compatible with the use of nightvision goggles. A separate air loadmaster station has been established in the cargo hold. The aircraft is restricted to an AT role at the moment, pending military clearance for wider use in the tactical TS role.
The defensive-aids suite includes a missile warning system linked to the directional, Infrared counter-measure system, a radar warning receiver and a chaff or flare dispensing system. The defensive system helps protect the aircraft against surface-to-air and air-to-air Infrared seeking weapons that may be encountered during operations.
C-130 Hercules Specifications
Powerplant: Four Allison AE 2100D3 turboprops
Thrust: 4591shp each
Propeller: Dowty R39 six-blade variable pitch propeller
Wing span: 40.38m (132ft 7ins)
Tailplane span: 16.04m (52ft 8ins)
Length: 34.34m (ll2ft 9ins) (CMk4) 29.77m (97ft 9ins) (CMk5)
Max speed: 340kts (400mph)
Max altitude: 32,000ft