The HC-130J is tasked with helicopter in-flight refueling support for CSAR/personnel recovery, tactical C2, and pararescue (PJ) deployment. It replaces legacy HC-130N/Ps and is based on the USMC’s KC-130J tanker.
It adds an enhanced service-life wing, improved cargo handling system, refueling receptacle, EO/IR sensor, flight deck CSO console, and dual SATCOM. Features include integrated INS/GPS, NVG-compatible lighting, FLIR, and integrated situational awareness.
Recently added Advanced Threat Warning and RF countermeasures, as well as chaff/ flares give the HC-130 the latest self-defensive capability for recovery operations in contested environments.
USAF plans to standardize HC/AC/MC-130J block upgrades, and current efforts bring all HC-130Js to a common standard. Ongoing development and upgrades include avionics Block 8.1 (in common with the C-130J fleet), Lightweight Airborne Radio System (LARS), Situational Awareness Capabilities Upgrade (SACU), and wireless intercom to allow comms in/outside the aircraft during ground operations.
LARS transitions to the new 406 MHz distress frequency and improves timely location of aircraft, vessels, and personnel. SACU replaces the legacy data link with Link 16, blue force tracking, advanced mission planning, and new displays to enhance secure networking/comms fleet-wide by 2023.
The final operational HC-130N/Ps departed Patrick for storage in December 2019 and the 920th Rescue Wing received its first HC-130J on April 2, 2020. A single HC-130J is slated for delivery in FY21 and USAF expects to complete total recap by 2023.
Contractor: Lockheed Martin.
First Flight: July 29, 2010.
Delivered: Sept. 24, 2010-present.
IOC: April 25, 2013.
Production: 39 (planned).
Operator: ACC, AETC, AFRC, ANG.
Aircraft Location: Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; Francis S. Gabreski Arpt., N.Y.; JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Kirtland AFB, N.M.; Moffett Field, Calif.; Moody AFB, Ga.; Patrick SFB, Fla.
Active Variants: •HC-130J. C-130J modified for CSAR and aerial refueling.
Dimensions: Span 132.6 ft, length 97.8 ft, height 38.8 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 164,000 lb.
Power Plant: Four Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprops, each 4,591 shp.
Performance: Speed 363.4 mph at S-L, range 4,000+ miles (farther with air refueling).