The US Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC) has received the first of 21 HC-130J combat rescue tankers ordered from Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin C-130 programme vice-president Ross Reynolds said the new configuration would give ACC unparalleled capability for combat search and rescue.

The new and improved C-130J will replace the air force’s aging combat search and rescue HC-130s and special operations MC 130s.

Based on a KC-130J, the tanker baseline will include the enhanced service life wing, enhanced cargo handling system and a universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation.

The aircraft also features an electro-optical / infrared sensor, a combat systems operator station on the flight deck and provision for the large aircraft infrared countermeasures system.

The USAF will acquire up to 31 HC/MC 130Js, including 11 HCs and 20 MCs.