The German Air Force has received the first of six C130-J Super Hercules aircraft it ordered from Lockheed Martin in 2018.
The official handover to Germany in a small ceremony in Marietta, Georgia, on February 1 followed Lockheed’s handover of the airframe in December 2021 to US Air Force. The US Air Force was responsible for continuously monitoring and ultimately accepting the aircraft as part of the foreign military sales process.
With the acceptance of the first of six units, the German Air Force has come a step closer to closing a capability gap that was created with the retirement of the final C-160 Transall aircraft after over 50 years of service.
According to the German Air Force, the first Super Hercules was handed over less than three years after the German defense procurement agency BAAINBw and the US Air Force signed the first agreement.
Germany and France intend to operate a joint fleet of C-130Js, which would consist of five C-130J-30 airframes and five KC-130Js. The latter provide an aerial refueling capability. Germany will be contributing to the fleet with three aircraft of each variant.
The binational fleet will fly from Évreux in Normandy, which is home to the French Air Force’s 62nd Transport Squadron. This is also where a joint training center is being established by Rheinmetall and Thales under a contract from March 2021.
With more than 40 different versions of the C-130J developed to date, and over 2,500 aircraft in use by 69 countries, the C-130J is the longest-produced aircraft in the world.
Compared to its predecessors, the C-130J reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings. Compared to older C-130s, the “J” model climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance.
C-130J major system improvements include advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics, color multifunctional liquid crystal and head-up displays, and state-of-the-art navigation that includes a dual inertial navigation system and GPS. The aircraft also features fully integrated defensive systems, low-power color radar, digital moving map display, new turboprop engines with six-bladed all-composite propellers and a digital autopilot. The C-130J also includes improved fuel, environmental and ice-protection and an enhanced cargo-handling system.
With a maximum takeoff weight of 74,389 kg, the C-130J has a range of up to 4,000 km, and can deliver cargo to airfields with short unsurfaced runways, and airdrop cargo and paratroops by parachute. The aircraft can carry up to 128 passengers, or eight pallets of cargo.