The 317th Airlift Wing headquartered at Dyess Air Force Base has shattered previous records by completing the inaugural C-130J Super Hercules Max Endurance Operation (MEO) with external fuel tanks.

This achievement, on April 20, 2024, under the codename “Hazard Leap,” shows the wing’s extended range capabilities and establishes a new benchmark in operational endurance within Air Mobility Command (AMC).

During the Hazard Leap operation, a single C-130J Super Hercules from the 40th Airlift Squadron embarked on a 26-hour and 33-minute mission to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, with only one refuelling stop in Hawaii. This display of endurance highlights the C-130J’s ability to operate for extended periods without interruption, showcasing its reliability in strategic airlift operations.

Captain Anna Santori, a pilot from the 40th Airlift Squadron and member of the Hazard Leap crew, lauded the benefits of the extended range afforded by the external fuel tanks. “Knowing that we have the capability to rapidly deploy and reach distant theatres within a shorter time frame expands the expectation of C-130s,” Santori remarked. 

With approximately 17,000 pounds of additional fuel capacity, equivalent to approximately four extra hours of flying time, the C-130J Super Hercules emerges as an asset in long-range missions and rapid deployment scenarios.

The execution of Hazard Leap builds upon the 317th Airlift Wing’s earlier experimentation with external fuel tanks in May 2023. By integrating external fuel tanks, the wing extends its reach to remote locations and enhances its ability to support joint force operations in austere environments, further bolstering AMC’s global reach.

The 317th Airlift Wing is poised to continue its momentum with Exercise Hazard Spear, predicted to run until May 4, 2024. This will focus on declaring Initial Operational Capability for multiple Accelerated Mission Sets in the Indo-Pacific region, reaffirming the wing’s readiness and interoperability with allied and partner forces.

The C-130J has proven popular among US-allied Indo-Pacific customers. The Philippines, Indonesia, and Norway have all strengthened their air capabilities by acquiring and upgrading C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft within the last year. 

The Philippines purchased three C-130J-30s from Lockheed Martin, enhancing its tactical airlift capabilities for military missions in the Indo-Pacific. Indonesia received its fourth C-130J-30, and Norway upgraded all four of its existing C-130J-30s with the Block 8.1 upgrade, improving global reach, navigation, and defensive capabilities.