Canada’s New CC-130J: The “Super Hercules”

A His­to­ry of the Her­cules

The Cana­di­an Forces have flown vari­ants of the CC-130 Her­cules air­craft since 1960. Over its long life, this ver­sa­tile work­horse has proven to be invalu­able pri­mar­i­ly as a tac­ti­cal lift air­craft – trans­port­ing peo­ple and equip­ment over mod­er­ate dis­tances with­in a the­atre of oper­a­tions (e.g. as part of an “air bridge”), often under aus­tere and chal­leng­ing con­di­tions. The “Herc” has also served as a tac­ti­cal air-to-air refu­eller, a search and res­cue air­craft, and has even tak­en on long-range strate­gic trans­port mis­sions when required. This lat­ter role has recent­ly been filled by the impres­sive new CC-177 Globe­mas­ter, which was designed specif­i­cal­ly for the very long range and mas­sive pay­load require­ments of strate­gic airlift. 

CC-130J “Super Her­cules”
Source: Depart­ment of Nation­al Defence
Click to enlarge

The fleet of 19 E‑model and 13 H‑model Her­cules air­craft have served Cana­di­ans well at home and abroad, from deployed oper­a­tions in Afghanistan and Haiti, to domes­tic emer­gen­cies like the Ice Storm of 1998, the Man­i­to­ba floods of 1997 and the BC for­est fires of 2003. In fact, Canada’s old­er E‑model Her­cules air­craft have logged more fly­ing hours than any com­pa­ra­ble Her­cules in the world. These air­craft are now being with­drawn from ser­vice as they reach the end of their eco­nom­ic life, six of the E mod­els have already been retired and it is expect­ed that all remain­ing E mod­els will be with­drawn by spring 2012. New air­craft are required to restore and revi­tal­ize Canada’s tac­ti­cal air­lift fleet. 

Cana­da First Defence Strat­e­gy: Meet­ing the Need

In June 2006, the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da announced its inten­tions to acquire a new tac­ti­cal trans­port air­craft fleet to replace the E‑model Her­cules. In accor­dance with the prin­ci­ples of the Cana­da First Defence Strat­e­gy, this ini­tia­tive will pro­vide the Cana­di­an Forces with the equip­ment they need to per­form their man­dat­ed mis­sions, in this instance the vital mis­sion of tac­ti­cal air­lift. The new air­craft will meet the demand­ing require­ments for oper­at­ing safe­ly and effec­tive­ly in Canada’s vast ter­ri­to­ry, harsh cli­mate and diverse geog­ra­phy. In addi­tion, it will ensure that Cana­da can con­tin­ue to pro­vide a cred­i­ble and inde­pen­dent response to inter­na­tion­al emer­gen­cies any­where and any­time it is need­ed. A robust and ver­sa­tile tac­ti­cal air­lift capa­bil­i­ty clear­ly sup­ports the tenets of the Cana­da First Defence Strategy. 

A Solic­i­ta­tion of Inter­est and Qual­i­fi­ca­tion (SOIQ) was issued to pro­vide an open and com­pet­i­tive oppor­tu­ni­ty for indus­try to pro­pose solu­tions to Canada’s tac­ti­cal air­lift require­ment. In Decem­ber 2007, a con­tract val­ued at approx­i­mate­ly USD $1.4 bil­lion was award­ed to Lock­heed Mar­tin to pro­vide Cana­da with 17 new state-of-the-art J‑model Her­cules aircraft. 

Lat­er, in Feb­ru­ary 2009, the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da announced that Mon­tre­al-based CAE would be the sin­gle oper­a­tional train­ing sys­tems provider for the CC-130J Her­cules and CH-147F Chi­nook fleets. CAE was award­ed CAD $346 mil­lion to estab­lish a world-class air­crew train­ing capa­bil­i­ty for the CC-130J Her­cules fleet. That con­tract was amend­ed in March 2010 to include an addi­tion­al CAD $250 mil­lion for the Chi­nook fleet. 

In Jan­u­ary 2010, it was announced that a CAD $723 mil­lion con­tract amend­ment had been reached with Lock­heed Mar­tin Cor­po­ra­tion for in-ser­vice sup­port to main­tain the new fleet until June 30, 2016. The amend­ment also includes mech­a­nisms to extend this main­te­nance sup­port for the full life cycle of the air­craft, ensur­ing Cana­da can main­tain its tac­ti­cal air­lift capa­bil­i­ty. Both the main­te­nance and train­ing con­tracts state that Lock­heed Mar­tin and CAE are required to invest in the Cana­di­an econ­o­my – match­ing dol­lar for dol­lar the val­ue of their respec­tive con­tracts — thus ensur­ing long-term job cre­ation and eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty in Canada. 

Renew­al of the tac­ti­cal air­lift fleet is coor­di­nat­ed and inte­grat­ed with the mod­ern­iza­tion of Cana­di­an Forces infra­struc­ture. All 17 CC-130Js will be based at 8 Wing Tren­ton, thus obtain­ing max­i­mum oper­a­tional and finan­cial effi­cien­cies from com­mon train­ing, main­te­nance and infra­struc­ture require­ments. For the lat­ter, in Sep­tem­ber 2009, an infra­struc­ture project was announced to con­struct a new 17,000 m² facil­i­ty at 8 Wing. The Air Mobil­i­ty Train­ing Cen­tre (AMTC) will house the equip­ment and per­son­nel required to train oper­a­tors and main­tain­ers of the CC-130J Her­cules air­craft. Con­struc­tion of the hangar began in late fall 2009 and com­ple­tion is antic­i­pat­ed for sum­mer 2012. This project is val­ued at approx­i­mate­ly CAD $84.2 mil­lion with CAD $40.5 mil­lion to Pomer­leau Inc., of Ottawa. The AMTC will gen­er­ate an esti­mat­ed 454 direct employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties through­out the course of the work. 

Canada’s first CC-130J was deliv­ered from the Lock­heed Mar­tin facil­i­ty in Mari­et­ta, Geor­gia to 8 Wing Tren­ton on June 4, 2010 – six months ahead of the orig­i­nal deliv­ery sched­ule. The remain­ing air­craft will begin deliv­ery in win­ter 2010 as planned and in accor­dance with the orig­i­nal con­tract, begin­ning in win­ter 2010 with deliv­ery com­plet­ed in 2012. To empha­size the “new­ness” of this air­craft, the J mod­els have been giv­en a new series of tail num­bers – the 600 series. The old­er Her­cules have 300 series tail num­bers (e.g., 130337). Thus, the first CC-130J Her­cules has the tail num­ber 130601. 

About the CC-130J Her­cules

The CC-130J may look sim­i­lar to its pre­de­ces­sors, but it is in fact a great­ly improved air­craft. The J mod­el is a four-engine, fixed-wing tur­bo­prop tac­ti­cal trans­port air­craft with a rear car­go ramp, rugged land­ing gear, excel­lent short-field per­for­mance and high ground clear­ance for engines and pro­pellers for oper­a­tions on unpre­pared airstrips. An extreme­ly ver­sa­tile air­craft, it can be used for troop trans­port, tac­ti­cal air­lift (both pal­letized and vehic­u­lar car­go), as well as air­crew train­ing and qualification. 

The new CC-130J has an enhanced car­go han­dling sys­tem and a two-per­son, state-of-the-art flight sta­tion that includes four mul­ti­func­tion­al LCD dis­plays; two holo­graph­ic head-up dis­plays (HUD); and elec­tron­ic, dig­i­tal read­outs for air­craft flight con­trols and oper­at­ing and nav­i­gat­ing sys­tems. Defence sys­tems include a mis­sile warn­ing and coun­ter­mea­sures dis­pens­ing sys­tem and radar warn­ing receiver. 

The new CC-130J is actu­al­ly stretched by 4.6m (15 feet) com­pared to the exist­ing Her­cules, allow­ing for sig­nif­i­cant­ly more car­go space. With a top cruis­ing speed of 660 kilo­me­tres per hour and a max­i­mum range is 6,852 kilo­me­tres, the J‑model can fly faster, fur­ther and more effi­cient­ly than old­er mod­els. It also car­ries more pas­sen­gers and car­go; up to 92 com­bat troops or 128 non-com­bat pas­sen­gers. Not only is the new Her­cules a more capa­ble air­craft, it also requires few­er crew mem­bers than the exist­ing Her­cules; it flies with a min­i­mum crew of three – two pilots and a load­mas­ter – com­pared to a crew of five for the cur­rent aircraft. 

The new CC-130J air­craft is both proven and improved. Ear­ly deliv­ery of this impres­sive air­craft rep­re­sents a major mile­stone in ful­fill­ing the require­ments of the Cana­da First Defence Strat­e­gy. Cana­di­ans and Canada’s inter­ests will be well-served by the world-class and ver­sa­tile J mod­el “Super Her­cules” for many years to come, whether across the coun­try or around the world. 

Depart­ment of Nation­al Defence, Kanada 

Team GlobDef

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