The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for take off and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medivac, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling, maritime patrol, and aerial fire fighting. It is now the main tactical air-lifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 60 nations.
The C-130 entered service with U.S. in the 1950s, followed by Australia and others. During its years of service, the Hercules family has participated in numerous military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations. The family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft—after the English Electric Canberra, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95, and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, all designs with various forms of aviation gas turbine power plants—to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case, the United States Air Force. The C-130 is one of the few military aircraft to remain in continuous production for over 50 years with its original customer, as the updated C-130J Super Hercules.C-130J
The C-130J is the newest version of the Hercules and the only model still in production. Externally similar to the classic Hercules in general appearance, the J-model features considerably updated technology. These differences include new Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprops with Dowty R391 composite scimitar propellers, digital avionics (including head-up displays (HUDs) for each pilot), and reduced crew requirements. These changes have improved performance over its C-130E/H predecessors, such as 40% greater range, 21% higher maximum speed, and 41% shorter take off distance. The J-model is available in a standard-length or stretched -30 variant.
Video by the Royal Air Force Museum, documenting the history of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and its service with the RAF.