The J model is an improvement on previous models in that it brings enhanced avionics and propulsion systems to the fight, providing additional aircraft range, higher maximum speed and shorter takeoff distance. With the noticeable difference of a six-bladed composite propeller coupled to a Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine, the C-130J brings substantial performance improvements over all previous models. The C-130J-30, a stretch version with a 15-foot fuselage extension, increases the capabilities even more.
The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. The C-130 operates throughout the U.S. Air Force, serving with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command, fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations. Basic and specialized versions of the aircraft airframe perform a diverse number of roles, including airlift support, Antarctic ice resupply, aeromedical missions, weather reconnaissance, aerial spray missions, firefighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service and natural disaster relief missions.
Using its aft loading ramp and door, the C-130 can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. In an aerial delivery role, it can airdrop loads up to 42,000 pounds or use its high-flotation landing gear to land and deliver cargo on rough, dirt strips.
The flexible design of the Hercules enables it to be configured for many different missions, allowing one aircraft to perform the role of many. Much of the special mission equipment added to the Hercules is removable, allowing the aircraft to return to its cargo delivery role if desired. Additionally, the C-130 can be rapidly reconfigured for the various types of cargo such as palletized equipment, floor-loaded material, airdrop platforms, container delivery system bundles, vehicles and personnel or aeromedical evacuation.
The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet and will replace aging C-130Es. The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology, which reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models. 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. The C-130J-30 is a stretch version, adding 15 feet to the fuselage, increasing usable space in the cargo compartment.
C-130J/J-30 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 auto pilot. The C-130J/J-30 also includes improved fuel, environmental and ice-protection and an enhanced cargo-handling system.
While it has continued to upgrade through modification, the Air Force budgeted to resume fleet modernization through acquisition of the C-130J. The C-130J had the familiar silhouette, but was in largely a brand new airplane with significantly improved performance. The C-130J by 2007 was declared to be approximately 70 percent new compared to existing versions. Compared to the earlier production C-130E, maximum speed was up 21% and climb time down 50%. Cruising altitude was 40% higher and range 40% longer. With new engines and props, the J could reach 28,000 feet in just 14 minutes. For complicated low altitude maneuvers, new avionics and dual head up displays made it easier and safer to operate. It also offered reduced manpower requirements, lower operating costs, support costs, and projected life-cycle costs. The new model featured a two-crew-member flight system, 6,000 shp Allison AE2100D3 engines with all-composite Dowty R391 propellers, digital avionics and mission computers, and improved reliability and maintainability.
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