Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft Disposal
Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft

Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft Disposal

The Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) is part of Defence Equipment and Support, within the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), and is the organisation with sole authority and responsibility for overseeing the sale of surplus UK Armed Forces military equipment. Buying from DESA provides customers with the most cost and time effective alternative to purchasing brand new military equipment. DESA is currently marketing a number of C-130J aircraft that are coming out of service between 2023 and 2025. They are available for sale from the UK MoD, who are working with their principal retail partner Marshall Aerospace, who will provide necessary entry into service, sustainment and capability enhancements.

The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is the newest version of the C-130 Hercules and the only model in production. As of March 2022, 500 C-130J aircraft were delivered to 26 operators in 22 countries. 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, Dowty R391 six-bladed composite scimitar propellers that have blade tips swept by 35 degrees, digital avionics, and reduced crew requirements. The C-130J includes a black rubber deicing boot at the bottom of the vertical fin, which is another visual difference from previous versions of the Hercules.

Two Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules from Royal Air Force 47 Squadron (Photo by SAC Connor Tierney/Crown Copyright )

The Hercules is the Royal Air Force’s primary tactical transport aircraft and in its current C.Mk 4 and C.Mk 5 versions of the C-130J-30 and C-130J, respectively, has been the backbone of UK operational tactical mobility tasks since it was brought into service in 1999. It is frequently employed to operate into countries or regions where there is a threat to aircraft; its performance, tactics and defensive systems make it the ideal platform for such tasks. The aircraft is highly flexible, with the ability to airdrop a variety of stores and paratroopers, and operate from natural surface landing zones. Long-range capabilities are enhanced with air-to-air refuelling, while the Air Survival Rescue Apparatus may be mounted in the cabin for search and rescue missions, enabling the Hercules to airdrop life rafts and emergency supplies.

Having worked intensively during Operations Telic and Herrick alongside the legacy Hercules fleet, the C-130J has accumulated flying hours rather more rapidly than had been projected. It was identified in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review for withdrawal from service in 2022, a decade earlier than originally planned. By now the A400M programme was well advanced. The Atlas was always earmarked to replace the Hercules and although its tactical capability is likely to have expanded dramatically by 2022, the C-130J clearly had an important tactical role to play until the A400M was fully established. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review reflected this thinking, with the announcement that 14 Hercules C4s will remain in service until 2030.