On 18 June 2024, Lockheed Martin marked the delivery of the 2,700th Hercules multi-mission tactical air-lifter, a KC-130J Super Hercules tanker, to be operated by the US Marine Corps (USMC) Aerial Refueller Transport Squadron 252.

The C-130 Hercules aircraft family is used by 70 nations, worldwide, with the  latest production model, the C-130J Super Hercules, supporting 18 different mission requirements.

The maiden flight of the C-130 Hercules was in 1954. The aircraft measures 29.3 metres (m) in length and 11.4m in height, with a wing-span of 39.7m. It has a maximum gross take-off weight of 79,380kg, and a cargo volume of the aircraft is 4,551 cubic feet.

The KC-130J features modern aerial refuelling capabilities and is designed based on the C-130 Hercules tanker technology. The KC-130J variant is capable of refuelling numerous rotary wing aircraft and fixed-wing aircraft, including the F-35B/C Lightning II. It can be integrated with modular systems for providing close air support to troops and conducting multi-sensor image reconnaissance. 

Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions, highlighted the significance of this delivery, emphasising the aircraft’s role in enhancing the USMC’s capabilities and its adaptability to diverse missions: “The Lockheed Martin team is honoured to deliver this milestone Super Hercules to the U.S. Marine Corps, where it will be part of the largest KC-130J fleet in the world and provide true force amplification across the globe.” 

“Not only does this Hercules represent the 2,700th C-130 delivered, but it also reflects the inherent mission and performance adaptability that fuels the C-130’s ongoing relevance,” added McLean.

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The KC-130J’s design allows it to operate at slow speeds and low altitudes, ideal for helicopter refuelling. The Super Hercules fleet plays a role in tactical airlift missions and humanitarian operations worldwide. 

The C-130J fleet, with over 540 aircraft and nearly 3 million flight hours, continues to gain invaluable insights, ensuring its readiness for future challenges.