The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) has received the first (tail number 5930) of six Lockheed Martin KC/C-130J Super Hercules aircraft it ordered from Lockheed Martin in 2018. The official handover to Germany in a small ceremony in Marietta, Georgia, on February 1 followed Lockheed’s handover of the airframe in December 2021 to the US Air Force. The new Super Hercules at the Évreux-Fauville Air Base in northern France on 19 February. The arrival of the first Luftwaffe Hercules at the home of the newly established Franco-German transport squadron in Normandy came just weeks after an official handover ceremony was held at the Marietta production facility in the United States on 1 February.
The first Super Hercules was handed over less than three years after the German defense procurement agency BAAINBw and the US Air Force signed the first agreement. With the acceptance of the first of six units, the German Air Force has come to a step closer to closing a capability gap that was created with the retirement of the final C-160 Transall aircraft after over 50 years of service. The US Air Force was responsible for continuously monitoring and ultimately accepting the aircraft as part of the foreign military sales process. Germany and France intend to operate a joint fleet of C-130Js, which would consist of five C-130J-30 airframes and five KC-130Js. The binational fleet will fly from Évreux in Normandy, which is home to the French Air Force’s 62nd Transport Squadron. This is also where a joint training center is being established by Rheinmetall and Thales under a contract from March 2021.
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. 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 turboprop engines 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 takeoff distance. The J-model is available in a standard-length or stretched -30 variant. The C-130J is the newest version of the C-130 Hercules and the only model in production. As of February 2018, 400 C-130J aircraft were delivered to 17 nations. By July 2021, 450 C-130J were delivered with 26 operators in 22 countries.
As a cargo and airlift aircraft, the C-130J’s crew includes two pilots and one loadmaster (no navigator or flight engineer), while specialized USAF variants (e.g., AC-130J, EC-130J, MC-130J, HC-130J, WC-130J) may have larger crews, such as navigators/Combat Systems Officers or other specialized officer and enlisted aircrew. The U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J uses a crew chief for expeditionary operations. The C-130J’s cargo compartment is approximately 41 feet (12.5 m) long, 9 feet (2.74 m) high, and 10 feet (3.05 m) wide, and loading is from the rear of the fuselage. The aircraft can also be configured with the “enhanced cargo handling system”. The system consists of a computerized loadmaster’s station from which the user can remotely control the under-floor winch and also configure the flip-floor system to palletized roller or flat-floor cargo handling.