The EC-130V Multi-Mission Aircraft combined a C-130H airframe with the APS-125 Radar and Mission System of the US Navy Hawkeye. This aircraft was for counter-narcotics missions requiring greater endurance than the E-2 could provide, but was also evaluated for Search and Rescue, Fisheries Patrols, EEZ enforcement and as a support aircraft for NASA Space Shuttle launches. Externally the EC-130 differs from a standard Coast Guard C-130 with the fitting of a large rotodome housing the APS-125 radar. Internally the mission system is palletized and was rolled into the C-130 cargo bay to complete the conversion.
The Lockheed Martin EC-130V Hercules AEW&C aircraft was first developed for the United States Coast Guard as a proof of concept aircraft by the General Dynamics company. In 1991 one USCG HC-130H7 (1721) was converted to the EC-130V AWACS air-surveillance version. The first flight was on 31 July 1991, and the aircraft was handed over to Coast Guard for 11-month test period on 16 October 1991.
The Coast Guard conducted an extensive 5 day search for F/V ATLANTIS which began on October 30, 1992, after the owner of the vessel reported her overdue. The search covered approximately 98,000 square miles and involved 2 HU-25'S from Air Station Cape Cod, 2 P-3'S from NAS Brunswick, 1 C-130 from Air Station Elizabeth City, 1 EC-130V from Air Station Clearwater, 1 Suffolk ANG C-130, and USCGC TAMAROA. All searches resulted in negative sightings.
Due to budget cuts in the Coast Guard, the EC-130V program was terminated. This aircraft was transferred to the USAF in 1993 as the NC-130H for further development including upgrading to the latest APS-145 Radar. That airplane was at Edwards AFB and flown as a test bed in the late 1990s (1995-1999). By mid-1999 the Navy had the plane NAS Patuxent River as a test platform for avionics related to the Navy's Hawkeye 2000 program.
Lockheed Martin and the USAF have taken the concept further and are now considering a version based on the latest C-130J Hercules II for Foreign Military Sales.
The C-130J-30 AEW&C is based on the stretched variant of the Lockheed C-130J Hercules II, which features a new engine and propeller combination and digital flight station for two pilots. The C-130J-30 AEW&C is fitted with the AN/APS-145 on pylons above the rear fuselage of the aircraft. A tactical command centre and crew rest module is fitted into the cargo compartment to contain seven operator consoles and the Northrop Grumman (ESID) Group II+ mission system derived from the E-2C Hawkeye. Lockheed Martin have teamed with Northrop Grumman (ESID) and Transfield Defence Systems of Australia for the C-130J AEW&C.
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