Published March 14, 2017
The 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base operates a fleet of eight C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft known as the "workhorse of the Air Force."
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.
Four decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 remains in production. The initial production model was the C-130A, with four Allison T56-A-11 or -9 turboprop engines. A total of 219 were ordered and deliveries began in December 1956. The C-130B introduced Allison T56-A-7 turboprop engines and the first of 134 entered Air Force service in May 1959.
Introduced in August of 1962, the 389 C-130Es that were ordered using the same Allison T56-A-7 engine, but adding two 1,290 gallon external fuel tanks and an increased maximum takeoff weight capability. June 1974 introduced the first of 308 C-130Hs with the more powerful Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engine. Nearly identical to the C-130E externally, the new engine brought major performance improvements to the aircraft.
The latest C-130 to be produced, the C-130J, entered the inventory in February 1999. 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. To date, the Air Force has taken delivery of 77 C-130J aircraft from Lockheed-Martin Aeronautics Company.
Active-duty locations for the C-130 and its variations are Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and Yokota AB, Japan.
Air Force Reserve locations for assigned C-130 models are Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.; Keesler AFB, Miss.; Maxwell AFB, Ala.; Minnesota-St. Paul Joint Air Reserve Station, Minn.; Niagara Falls ARS, N.Y.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; Pittsburgh ARS, Pa.; Pope Field, N.C. and Youngstown ARS, Ohio.
Air National Guard locations for the C-130 and its variations are Joint Reserve Base Carswell, Texas; Channel Island Air National Guard Station, Calif.; Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, N.C.; Cheyenne Municipal Airport, Wyo.; Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Louisville IAP, Ky.; Munoz ANGB, Puerto Rico; Minnesota-St. Paul ARS, Minn.; Nashville IAP, Tenn.; New Castle County ANGB, Del; Greater Peoria Regional Airport, Ill.; Quonset State Airport, R.I.; Reno-Tahoe IAP, Nev.; Savannah IAP, Ga.; Schenectady MAP, N.Y.; Rosecrans Memorial Airport, Mo.; and Yeager Airport, W.V.
Primary Function: Global Airlift
Contractor: Lockheed-Martin Aeronautics Company
C-130H: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops; 4,591prop shaft horsepower
C-130E/H/J: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.3 meters)
Height: 38 feet, 10 inches (11. 9 meters)
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (39.7 meters)
C-130E/H/J: length, 40 feet (12.31 meters); width, 119 inches (3.02 meters); height, 9 feet (2.74 meters). Rear ramp: length, 123 inches (3.12 meters); width, 119 inches (3.02 meters)
C-130H: 366 mph/318 ktas (Mach 0.52) at 20,000 feet (6,060 meters)
C-130H: 23,000 feet (7,077 meters) with 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms) payload.
Maximum Takeoff Weight:
C-130E/H/J: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
Maximum Allowable Payload:
C-130H, 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms)
Maximum Normal Payload:
C-130H, 36,500 pounds (16,590 kilograms)
Range at Maximum Normal Payload:
C-130H, 1,208 miles (1,050 nautical miles)
Range with 35,000 pounds of Payload:
C-130H, 1,496 miles (1,300 nautical miles)
C-130E/H/J: 6 pallets or 74 litters or 16 CDS bundles or 92 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, or a combination of any of these up to the cargo compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight.
C-130E/H: Five (two pilots, navigator, flight engineer and loadmaster)
Aeromedical Evacuation Role: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians) is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be decreased or increased as required by the needs of patients.
Unit Cost: C-130H, $30.1, (FY 1998 constant dollars in millions)
C-130A: Dec 1956
C-130B: May 1959
C-130E: Aug 1962
C-130H: Jun 1974
C-130J: Feb 1999
Active Force: 145
Air National Guard: 181
Air Force Reserve: 102
(Current as of May 2014)