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KC-130J Hercules: Aerial Refueling Powerhouse with Impressive 57,500-Pound Fuel Offload Capacity and Versatile Removable Fuel Tanks

Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin

Service: USMC Payload: 42,000 lb Propulsion: 4x Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines Speed: 362 knots Range: 2,835 nm  Crew: 4 (two pilots,one crew chief and one loadmaster are minimum crew)The KC-130J Hercules was purchased by the Marine Corps to replace its aging fleet of KC-130F tanker aircraft. The “J” is a primary aerial refuelling aircraft for Marine fixed-wing jets and helicopters.

The KC-130 Hercules can resupply austere battle zones, provide a Direct Air Support Center, insert ground troops and perform medevac operations.The KC-130J offers a 57,500-pound fuel offload capacity using wing and external tanks while in the air. The KC-130 is equipped with a removable 3,600-gallon aluminum fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment providing additional fuel when required. The aircraft is ready to fuel fixed or rotary-wing aircraft using the standard probe and drogue.

The two wing-mounted hose and drogue refueling pods each transfer up to 300 gallons per minute to two aircraft simultaneously allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations (a typical tanker formation of four aircraft in less than 30 minutes). When more fuel is needed, an additional 24,392 pounds of fuel can be offloaded from a specially configured internal fuselage tank. The system also functions without the fuselage tank, so the cargo compartment can be used for cargo on the same mission, giving the aircraft even greater flexibility.

The KC-130J provides for the rapid ground refueling of helicopters, vehicles and fuel caches at 4,018 pounds per minute. The aircraft has a unique propeller feathering feature (known as “hotel mode”) which can slow (25% rotation speed) the propellers while the turbines continue to run and pump fuel. This reduction of the propellers’ speed helps to eliminate prop wash behind the KC-130J.

The KC-130J can also be configured as an aerial gunship, with the addition of an AN/AAQ-60 targeting pod, Hellfire missiles, guided bombs and a 30mm cannon. The so-called Harvest HAWK package is used for ground support of Marines in contact and was first used in Afghanistan.