Hercules history was made on April 2, when Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW), Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, accepted delivery of the U.S. Air Force’s Reserve first HC-130J Combat King II search-and-rescue aircraft. This HC-130J will be operated by the 920th RQW’s 39th Rescue Squadron (RQS). The wing has long been operators of the legacy HC-130 P/N Combat King combat search-and-rescue aircraft, flying and maintaining HC-130s since the 1960s. The HC-130J is the sole dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform operated by the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. According to Lockheed Martin, the 920th RQW has the distinction of being the Air Force Reserve’s only HC-130J operators and will eventually have several HC-130J in fleet to support mission requirements.
The 920th RQW is responsible for a demanding and compelling array of missions, and the men and women who serve here must maintain a high level of proficiency and be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. In addition, the unit supports the space program, and the unit’s other peacetime missions include search-and-rescue support for civilians in distress at sea, in the desert or upon mountains. The wing also provides worldwide humanitarian relief, supporting rescue efforts in the aftermath of disasters such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. The HC-130J is essential in enabling this unique mission set.
Often tasked for airdrop, airland, helicopter air-to-air refueling and forward-area ground refueling missions, the HC-130’s mission capabilities also include humanitarian aid operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations. Compared to legacy platforms, the HC-130J Combat King II offers significant performance and capabilities advancements, to include fuel efficiencies, improvement in payload/range capabilities, an integrated defensive suite, automated maintenance fault reporting, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, and improved situational awareness with its digital avionics and dual Head Up Displays.