Super Hercules number 400 enters service


Earlier this month Lockheed Martin delivered the 400th C-130J Super Hercules military transport which has been offered to the SA Air Force on an almost annual basis by the Maryland headquartered aircraft manufacturer as a replacement for its aging C-130BZs.

Super Herc number 400 is a MC-130J Commando 11 Special Operations aircraft assigned to the US Air Force’s (USAF) Special Operations Command.

Speaking at the handover of C-130J number 400 George Schultz, Vice President And General Manager, Air Mobility and Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin, said: “The first 400 C-130Js meet a global demand for the proven performance and unmatched versatility found only in a Super Hercules. Its durability, relevancy and capability will continue to set the C-130J apart as the world’s choice in tactical airlift for decades to come”.

The aircraft is, according to its manufacturers, defined by its versatility.

To date, the C-130J supports 17 different mission configurations from transport, military and commercial; firefighting; search and rescue; Special Operations and weather reconnaissance to aerial refuelling.

The airborne service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is a long-time operator of the C-130 having taking delivery of its first C-130BZ platforms 54 years ago. 28 Squadron, based at AFB Waterkloof, is the primary transport unit of the SAAF and currently has seven of the four-engined aircraft on strength. Unconfirmed indications are that only two are airworthy and fully operational.

That Lockheed Martin values the SAAF as a client is indicated by regular calls – at least once a year – to senior air force and defence acquisition officials in Pretoria. Diplomats have also been roped in to boost the efforts of Lockheed Martin personnel and some years ago an indication was given that aircraft scheduled for delivery to USAF would be earmarked for South Africa if a green light was given for acquisition. This would have cut down significantly on the lead time as South Africa would effectively have jumped into a good position on the production line rather than wait its turn.