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A97 Lockheed Hercules

Twelve Lockheed C-130A Hercules aircraft (serials A97-205 to 216) were delivered between December 1958 and March 1959 and replaced the ageing Dakotas operated by No 36 Squadron until that time. In 1965, 12 more Hercules, this time the C-130E model, were ordered to increase the RAAF's lifting capacity, commensurate with its operations in the Vietnam War. These C-130Es were delivered to the re-formed No 37 Squadron at Richmond, NSW, between August 1966 and January 1967 and were given serials A97-159, 160, 167, 168, 171, 172, 177, 178, 180, 181, 189 and 190.

No 36 Squadron's C-130As were replaced by C-130H aircraft in 1978 and these new machines were given serials A97-001 to 12. These aircraft arrived in Australia between July and October 1978. While now over twenty years old, these aircraft are still amongst the most capable tactical transport aircraft in the world due to a series of upgrades and modifications.

The ‘H’ provides a valuable combination of medium- to long-range transport with an excellent short dirt runway capability. The primary role of the C-130H is the movement of personnel and equipment within a combat zone, known as tactical transport. This includes special forces insertion, parachuting (both static-line and free-fall) and the airdrop of equipment. A variety of equipment may be airdropped, ranging from 4WD vehicles to inflatable boats and artillery pieces.

With large low-pressure tires and an excellent short take-off and landing capability, the ‘H’ is able to operate into remote areas on unpaved airstrips without support equipment. This flexibility is a great asset, particularly when operating in the north of Australia. A number of C-130H aircraft are fitted with self-protection systems to improve survivability in hostile areas. The self-protection system consists of a radar warning receiver, along with chaff and flare dispensers. The radar identifies and locates the radar emissions of anti-aircraft artillery, surface-to-air missiles and fighter aircraft. If an aircraft is engaged by one of these threats, chaff and flares can be ejected to defeat them. Chaff comprises of bundles of metallic micro-fibres which when deployed may confuse an enemy radar. Flares are designed to fool heat-seeking missiles by leading the missile away from the aircraft. Tactical operations at night require C-130H crews to utilise night-vision goggles for terrain avoidance. These goggles amplify the low levels of ambient light at night time, allowing the aircraft to operate close to the ground.

The C-130J entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1999, replacing the ageing C-130E fleet that had served since 1966. Operated by No 37 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond, approximately 50kms north-west of Sydney, the C-130J is the most comprehensive update of the Hercules aircraft to date, with a new two-crew flight compartment and turbo-prop engines that drive six-blade propellers.

The ‘J’ is highly automated and contains state-of-the-art avionics technology. The flightdeck features two head-up displays (HUDs), four large multi-function displays, five monochrome displays and fighter-style controls on the control columns. The glass-cockpit technology also includes an automatic flight control system, auto-throttle, head-down display, traffic collision avoidance system, ground-collision-avoidance system and a stick-pusher to prevent inadvertent aircraft stall. Integrated navigation equipment provides the pilots with an automatic navigation solution from the inertial navigation system and global positioning system, as well as regular ground-based navigation aids. All automation has multiple levels of redundancy for the tactical environment. The aircraft is night-vision goggle compatible and is fitted for, but not with, electronic counter-measure equipment.

This increase in automated control has allowed the minimum crew to be reduced from five in the C-130H to just three (two pilots and a loadmaster) in the C-130J, removing the requirement for a Flight Engineer and Navigator.

The C-130J is a tactical and multi-role transport aircraft providing strategic air support to the Australian Defence Force throughout the world, search and survivor assistance, aero-medical evacuation and aid to Australian and neighbouring civil communities.

The ‘J’ can seat 120 passengers, or 92 ground troops, or 64 paratroopers, or 74 stretcher patients and two medical attendants. It can also carry two extra cargo pallets – an increase of nearly 30% in cargo carrying capability. Chains and tie-downs for cargo, and passenger seating platforms, are stowed integral to the cargo compartment to allow last-minute changes to tasking and loads

TECHNICAL DATA: Lockheed C-130H Hercules


Medium-range transport


Flight crew of four (pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer), plus loadmaster


Four 4,508 shp Allison T56-A-15 turboprops.


92 troops, 64 paratroops, 74 casualty stretchers or 19 505 kg (43 000 lb) of freight.


Empty 34 373 kg (76 000 lb); Loaded (normal) 70 308 kg (155 000 lb); (overload) 79 380 kg (175,000 lb)


Wingspan 40.41 m (132 ft 7 in); Length 29.79 m (97 ft 9 in); Height 11.66 m (38 ft 3 in).


Max speed 602 km/h (325 kt); Cruise speed 556 km/h (300 kt); Ceiling 26,500 ft (8077 m); Range 7876 km (4253 nm). Back to top

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