C-130 Hercules Family

The C-130J Hercules The HC-130J Combat King II The MC-130J Commando II
The KC-130J Hercules The AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky

About the C-130 Family:

The Lockheed Martin C–130 Hercules is a Family of tactical airlift, aerial refueling, and military special mission aircraft. The C-130 is a highly flexible aircraft able to perform many different missions such as combat delivery, aerial refueling, special operations, disaster relief and humanitarian missions. The latest addition to the C-130 Family is the C-130J. It is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines with 4,700 shp each. Older C-130s are powered by four Rolls-Royce Allision T56 turboprop engines.

The flexible design of the C-130 enables it to be configured for many different missions, allowing for one aircraft to perform the role of many. Much of the special mission equipment added to the Hercules is removable, allowing the aircraft to revert back 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.

C-130 Hercules:

The C-130 "Vanilla" is the Hercules base variant. It serves as an advanced tactical airlifter. Using its aft loading ramp and door, the C-130J (latest version) can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. In an aerial delivery role, it can airdrop loads of up to 42,000 pounds (19,050 kg) or use its high-flotation landing gear to land and deliver cargo on austere, dirt/grass airstrips. C-130J carries up to six 463L standard pallets or 74 litters or 16 Container Delivery System (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. The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet and will replace aging C-130Es. The C-130J-30 (aka CC-130J) is a stretch version of the C-130J, adding 15 feet (4.6 meters) to the fuselage, thus increasing usable space in the cargo compartment. With more than 300 aircraft delivered, production of the C‑130J now exceeds total production of the C-130B (230 aircraft built) and the C-130A (231 aircraft built). To learn more about the C-130J, click here: C-130J/CC-130J.

HC-130 Search and Rescue:

The HC-130 variant is a personnel recovery aircraft. It is capable of worldwide operations requiring rapid deployment to remote airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all-weather personnel recovery. The HC-130 also performs airdrop and airland missions and provides a low-altitude helicopter aerial refueling and forward-area ground refueling capability. The newest variant, the HC-130J Combat King II, replaces older HC-130P/N King aircraft. To learn more about the HC-130, click here: HC-130J Combat King II.

LC-130 Skibird:

The LC-130H Skibird is a ski-equipped variant of the C-130 Hercules and is the backbone of U.S. transportation within Antarctica. Ten are currently in service with the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard based at Stratton Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in Schenectady, New York. The LC-130 fleet supports a wide range of scientific research on climate change, global warming, ozone depletion, earth history, and astronomy.

MC-130 Special Operations:

The MC-130J Commando II is a versatile multimission tactical airlifter operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is capable of worldwide employment for missions requiring single or multiship low-level aerial refueling of Special Operations rotorcraft and/or infiltration, resupply and exfiltration by airdrop or landing on remote airfields. The MC-130E Combat Talon I and MC-130H Combat Talon II provide infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces and equipment in enemy territory. Secondary missions include psychological operations and helicopter and vertical-lift (CV-22) aerial refueling. The MC-130P Combat Shadow flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multi-ship low-level aerial refueling missions in support of special operations helicopters, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces by airdrop or airland. The MC-130P primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of detection by the enemy and intercept by airborne threats. The MC-130P's secondary mission is the airdrop of leaflets. To learn more about the MC-130J Commando II, click here: MC-130J Commando II.

KC-130 Tanker:

The KC-130 variant is an aerial (and ground) refueling aircraft. On the ground, the KC-130J provides rapid refueling of helicopters, vehicles and fuel caches at 4,018 pounds per minute. The KC-130J comes with a unique propeller 'feathering' feature, which makes the props stop while the engines continue to run and pump fuel. In the air, the KC-130J provides a 57,500-pound fuel offload capability using both wing tanks and external tanks. The KC-130J has a 575 mile operating range and is able to fuel both fixed or rotary-wing aircraft. If more fuel is needed, an additional 24,392 pounds can be offloaded from an internal fuselage tank. The refueling system also functions without the internal fuselage tank, which means that the cargo compartment can be used for other purposes at the same time. To learn more about the KC-130, click here: KC-130J Tanker.

AC-130 Gunship:

The AC-130H Spectre, AC-130U Spooky and AC-130J (new) are fixed-wing gunship variants of the C-130. AC-130H/U/J aircraft provide close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance in support of special operation forces (SOF). Close air support missions include troops in contact, convoy escort and point air defense. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity and include strike coordination and reconnaissance and armed overwatch missions. The AC-130W Stinger II (called MC-130W Dragon Spear until May 2012) conducts armed overwatch missions. While similar to the missions of other AC-130s, the Dragon Spear is primarily focused on performing reconnaissance over friendly positions and may directly deliver ordnance to precise targets in support of ground forces. The MC-130W Dragon Spear provides ground forces with an expeditionary, persistent, direct fires platform delivering precision munitions ideally suited for urban operations. To learn more about the AC-130H/U/J, click here: AC-130 Gunship.


The EC-130H Compass Call is an airborne tactical weapon system using a heavily modified version of the basic C-130 Hercules airframe. The aircraft disrupts enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. The Compass Call system employs the offensive counterinformation and electronic attack (EA) capabilities in support of tactical air, surface, and special operations forces. The EC-130J Commando Solo conducts information operations, psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts in AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. A typical mission consists of a single-aircraft orbit offset from the desired target audience - either military or civilian personnel. The EC-130SJ conducts special operations forces missions including military free fall, which includes both high altitude, low opening and high altitude, high opening missions. The aircraft also conducts joint precision aerial delivery system drops as well as Container Delivery System (CDS) and psychological operations leaflet drops.

WC-130 Weatherbird:

The WC-130 variant "Weatherbird" is a high-wing medium-range aircraft used by the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) for weather reconnaissance missions. The WC-130 is able to remain airborne for nearly 15 hours. The aircraft regularly performs eleven-hour missions and covers almost 3,500 miles while its crew collects and reports weather data. The WC-130J is configured with computerized weather instrumentation for penetration of severe storms to obtain data on movement, dimensions and intensity. The WC-130J has been used to chase storms in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

FY 2015 DoD C-130 Program:

FY 2015 continues the procurement of C-130s by funding 14 aircraft, including seven C-130Js, four HC-130Js, and two MC-130Js for the Air Force + one KC-130J tanker for the Marine Corps. In total, FY 2015 procurement funds in the amount of $2,000.0 million have been provided for the C-130 Program + $45.5 million in RDT&E.

FY 2016 DoD C-130 Program:

FY 2016 continues the procurement of C-130s by funding 29 aircraft, including 14 C-130Js, five HC-130Js and eight MC-130Js for the Air Force + two KC-130J tanker for the Marine Corps. In total, FY 2016 procurement funds in the amount of $2,885.3 million have been provided for the C-130 Program + $90.0 million in RDT&E.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman, and Rolls-Royce.

Last Update: May 26, 2015.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:

Lockheed Martin: C-130 Hercules
Lockheed Martin: C-130 Variants

YouTube: C-130 Hercules | YouTube

Fact Sheet: Lockheed Martin | C-130J
Product Card: Lockheed Martin | C-130J
Fact Sheet: Lockheed Martin | HC-130J
Fact Sheet: Lockheed Martin | MC-130J

C-130 U.S. Defense Spending Charts:

DoD Spending on the C-130 Hercules in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
DoD Purchases of C-130J Hercules Aircraft in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2012/13/14 + Budget for FYs 2015 + 2016

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the C-130 Family of Aircraft

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of C-130J Aircraft (USAF) C-130J Aircraft Modifications (USAF)
Purchases of HC-130J Aircraft (USAF) HC/MC-130 Aircraft Modifications (USAF)
AC/MC-130J Aircraft Purchases (SOCOM) C-130 Aircraft Modifications (SOCOM)
C-130 Aircraft Modifications (USAF) C-130 Aircraft Modifications (NAVY)
AC-130J Aircraft Purchases (USAF) EC-130 Aircraft Modifications (USAF)
KC-130J Aircraft Purchases (NAVY)
Aircraft Spares and Repair Parts (USAF) Aircraft Spares and Repair Parts (NAVY)
Other C-130 Modification Programs:
Modification C-130 INTEL (USAF-FY14) Modification C-130 AMP (USAF-FY14)
Defense Program

Aircraft Programs Missile Programs Space Programs Shipbuilding Programs Vehicle Programs

C-130 Hercules The C-130J Hercules The HC-130J Combat King II The MC-130J Commando II The KC-130J Hercules The AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky
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