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Marines' KC-130J joins mission in Iraq

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 20052154019
Story by Cpl. Paul Leicht

AL ASAD, Iraq (Feb. 15, 2005) -- Establishing another milestone in Iraq, the Marine Corps deployed its newest refueling tanker aircraft, the KC-130J Hercules, for the first time Feb. 13.

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 relieves the ‘Yankees’ of VMGR-452, a Newburgh, N.Y., based reserve Marine unit deployed here since August 2004, and brings with them the new KC-130J.

“KC-130 is a versatile, tactical aerial refueler/transport aircraft that supports all six functions of Marine Aviation, and it is the Corps’ only fixed wing assault support aircraft” said Maj. Rodney A. Funk, operations officer, VMGR-452, who is a former Operational Test Pilot and assistant officer-in-charge for the KC-130J Fleet Introduction Team. “The KC-130 ‘J Model’ enhances and improves upon the abilities of the Hercules fleet to support the (Fleet Marine Force).”

Funk, a native of Lancaster, Pa., added, “Like previous models, the ‘J’ also provides both fixed and rotary wing tactical in-flight refueling, as well as rapid ground refueling of aircraft or tactical vehicles. This aircraft is a force-multiplier that is really well suited to the mission needs of the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps has gradually started to replace its active fleet of KC-130Fs and KC-130Rs with the new KC-130J.

“Compared to the other models of the KC-130, the ‘J’ has increased speed and range, in addition to other capabilities,” said Maj. David A. Krebs, operations officer, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, and a former pilot with VMGR-252 who has also flown many hours in the KC-130J during the squadron’s conversion process.

Krebs, a native of Monroeville, Ohio, further explained that the ‘J’ has an enhanced air-to-air refueling system with a 50 to 100 percent higher fuel flow rate, in addition to an armored cockpit, new night vision capabilities, heads up displays and state-of-the-art avionics.

Additional major improvements include a fully integrated navigation system with a dual embedded Global Positioning System, mission planning system, low-power color radar, digital map display, and a new digital autopilot, according to Funk.

Buying new aircraft and training new aircrews on the “J” model requires time. The Corps’ KC-130T models’ still have a lot of service life left on the airframes and is still a reliable and very capable platform to use as a bridge until the transition is complete, according to Krebs.

The “T” models will continue to support the Fleet Marine Force indefinitely and will play a pivotal supporting role while the Fleet transitions completely to the KC-130J, according Funk.

The Marine Corps completed developmental and operational testing, and operational evaluations of the KC-130J in November 2003.

Now deployed with VMGR-252 Marines in Iraq, the stage is set for the KC-130J to prove itself as another operational, combat ready fixed-wing aircraft in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

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