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HC-130 Hercules
USAF HC-130P/N of the 920th Rescue Wing refuels an HH-60G
Role combat search and rescue aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed
Lockheed Martin
First flight 1964
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Coast Guard
Developed from C-130 Hercules
A USAF HC-130P refuels an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, 1968.
USCG HC-130H on International Ice Patrol duties

The Lockheed HC-130 is an extended-range, search and rescue (SAR) and combat search and rescue (CSAR) version of the C-130 Hercules transport. HC-130H and HC-130J versions are operated by the United States Coast Guard in a SAR and maritime reconnaissance role and the HC-130N and HC-130P/N models are operated by the United States Air Force, who use the aircraft in both SAR and CSAR roles for long range search and to extend the range of combat search and rescue helicopters by providing air refueling and to execute on scene CSAR command and control.

Contents

Development

First flown in 1964, the HC-130 aircraft has served many roles and missions. It was initially modified to conduct search and rescue missions, provide a command and control platform, and in the case of USAF versions, in-flight refuel helicopters and carry supplemental fuel for extending range or air refueling. Some USAF aircraft were also modified to employ the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, although this system has since been discontinued and the specialized equipment removed.

The USAF HC-130 can fly in the day against a reduced threat; however, crews normally fly night, low-level, air refueling and airdrop operations using night vision goggles (NVG). The aircraft can routinely fly low-level NVG tactical flight profiles to avoid detection, and to enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, crews employ tactics that include incorporating no external lighting or communications, and avoiding radar and weapons detection.

Secondary mission capabilities include performing tactical airdrops of pararescue specialist teams, small bundles, zodiac watercraft, or four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles; and providing direct assistance to a survivor in advance of the arrival of a recovery vehicle. Other capabilities are extended visual and electronic searches over land or water, tactical airborne radar approaches and unimproved airfield operations. A team of three Pararescuemen (PJ's), trained in emergency trauma medicine, harsh environment survival and assisted evasion techniques, is part of the basic mission crew complement.

Combat Air Forces HC-130 aircraft are undergoing extensive modifications. These modifications include night vision-compatible interior and exterior lighting, a personnel locator system compatible with aircrew survival radios, improved digital low-power color radar and forward-looking infrared systems.

Coast Guard HC-130s were primarily acquired for long-range overwater search missions, support airlift, maritime patrol, North Atlantic ice patrol and command and control of search and rescue, replacing previously operated HU-16 Albatross and HC-123 Provider aircraft. Like their USAF counterparts, USCG HC-130s also have the capability of air dropping rescue equipment to survivors at sea or over open terrain.

Operational history

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Coast Guard operations

USCG HC-130J
USCG HC-130H departs Mojave

The USCG operates 27 HC-130H aircraft from five bases around the United States: CGAS Sacramento (former McClellan AFB), CGAS Clearwater, CGAS Elizabeth City, CGAS Kodiak and CGAS Barbers Point .[1] The aircraft are used for search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, illegal drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, military readiness, International Ice Patrol missions, as well as cargo and personnel transport.[2] The service also currently operates an additional 6 HC-130J aircraft from CGAS Elizabeth City.

Air Force operations

The HC-130P/N is the only dedicated fixed-wing combat search and rescue platform in the Air Force inventory. Units operating the aircraft include the 71st and 79th Rescue Squadrons (71 RQS, 79 RQS) in the US Air Force's Air Combat Command, the 102d Rescue Squadron (102 RQS), 129th Rescue Squadron (129 RQS) and 211th Rescue Squadron (211 RQS) in the Air National Guard, and the 39th Rescue Squadron (39 RQS) in the Air Force Reserve Command.

HC-130s were assigned to the Air Combat Command (ACC) from 1992 to 2003; prior to 1992, they were assigned to the Air Rescue Service as part of Military Airlift Command (MAC). In October 2003, operational responsibility for the Continental United States (CONUS) and Alaskan air search and rescue (SAR) mission, as well as the world-wide combat search and rescue (CSAR) mission was transferred to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

In October 2006, all USAF CSAR forces were reassigned back to Air Combat Command and the CONUS and Alaska SAR mission was also transferred back to ACC. However, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) that had been previously located at McClellan Air Force Base, California and Scott Air Force Base, Illinois under MAC and at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia under ACC, was relocated to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida under the control of 1st Air Force, the USAF component command to U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and ACC's numbered air force for the Air National Guard.

While under AFSOC and since returning to ACC, USAF, AFRC and ANG HC-130s have been deployed to Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, and Iraq in support of Operations Southern and Northern Watch, Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. HC-130s also support continuous alert commitments in Alaska, and provide rescue coverage for NASA Space Shuttle operations in Florida.

Variants

HC-130H
Specialized rescue version of the C-130H for the United States Coast Guard
HC-130N
Modified C-130E reconfigured as a combat search and rescue aircraft for the United States Air Force
HC-130P/N
Extended range version of the HC-130N for USAF with changes for in-flight refueling of helicopters, to include refueling pods on underwing pylons and additional internal fuel tanks in cargo bay
HC-130J
Modified rescue version of the C-130J for USCG

Operators

 United States

Specifications (HC-130H)

Data from USCG Specs[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5-7:
  • Length: 97 ft 9 in (29.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)
  • Height: 38 ft 3 in (11.6 m)
  • Wing area: 1,745 ft² (162.1 m²)
  • Empty weight: 76,780 lb (34,826)
  • Max takeoff weight: 175,000 lb (79,379 kg)
  • Powerplant:Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, 4,300 shp (3,210 kW) each

Performance

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

External links


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