The Canadian Air Force has deployed its first CC-130J Hercules tactical aircraft into operational service at Kandahar Airfield in support of UN-mandated, Nato-led missions to Afghanistan.

The new CC-130J Hercules aircraft, which provides additional capability and reliability, will belong to the tactical aviation unit (Task Force Canuck).

The aircraft will be used for missions such as intra-theatre transport of troops and cargo, battlefield illumination, and drops of combat packages.

The second CC-130J Hercules aircraft will be deployed to Afghanistan in mid 2011.

All 17 CC-130Js will be based at 8 Wing Trenton, along with the future air mobility training centre, which will house the equipment and personnel required to train the operators and maintainers of the CC-130J Hercules aircraft.

Chief of air staff Lieutenant-General André Deschamps said the quick introduction of the J-model Hercules in Afghanistan demonstrates the Canadian Air Force’s flexibility to sustain vital airlift missions in the complex environment of high-intensity joint operations.