Fact file: Lockheed Martin C130BZ Hercules medium tactical transport

7450

The South African Air Force C-130 fleet consists of seven platforms (401 – 407) purchased in 1963 before a US arms embargo was imposed on South Africa’s apartheid government and five received in 1997/8 from the US (two ex-United States Air Force C-130B’s – 408 and 409 – and three ex-US Navy C-130F’s – 410 to 412 as part of their Excess Defence Articles programme. The two ex-US C-130B ‘s and a C-130F (411) were subsequently put in service, but the C-130F was retired soon thereafter. Aircraft 407 retired in 2009, reducing the fleet to eight.

Contrary to popular belief, fostered somewhat by government and the SAAF, the A400M was not a replacement for the 47-year-old Lockheed Martin C130BZ Hercules aircraft operated by 28 Squadron. It was meant to replace expensive Ilyushin Il-76 “Candid” charter flights as well as the Boeing 707 airborne refuellers/electronic warfare aircraft, the last of which retired in July 2007. This had been operated by 60 Squadron, to whom the A400M had been assigned. This was confirmed by a senior air force officer defenceWeb’s maritime conference in October 2009. The officer noted at 13 new Maritime Patrol/Security Aircraft to be acquired under Project Saucepan for delivery around 2016 – funds permitting – would replace the C130BZ as well as the even-older Douglas C47TP Dakota as well as the comparatively new Casa C212 Aviocar and C235 aircraft currently in service with the SAAF’s transport squadrons. By then the C130BZ will be 53 years old.

Designation:

Lockheed Martin C130BZ Hercules

Type:

Medium tactical transport.

Country of origin:

United States.

First flight:

August 23, 1954.

Delivered to the SAAF:

January 1963 (#401-407).

Associated project name(s):

Ebb (21st Century upgrade).

Number:

8

Cost:

US11.9 million (1998 constant dollars) for similar C130E (US Air Force figure); According to leading South African defence analyst the C-130J “has a unit fly-away cost of US$ 82-86 million (R606-R636 million in November 2009), suggesting an overall acquisition cost of around US$160-170 million (R1.184-R1.258 billion in November 2009). .

Crew:

Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer & loadmaster.

Major dimensions & weights

  • Wingspan:

  • Length:

  • Height:

  • Wing area:

  • Cabin length:

  • Cabin width:

  • Cabin height:

  • Basic empty weight:

  • Max take-off weight:

  • Max landing weight:

  • Max internal fuel:

  • Max external fuel:

  • Max cargo weight:

  • Cargo capacity:

  • Passengers:

  • 39.7m (132ft 7in).

  • 29.78m (about 97ft).

  • 11.9m (38ft 10in).

  • 12.31m (40ft).

  • 3.12m (119in).

  • 2.74m (9ft)

  • 35.5mt.

  • 77.5mt.

  • 19mt.

  • 6 standard pallets

  • 90 troops, 64 paratroops, 74 stretchers.

Performance

  • Take-off to clear 15m:

  • Landing from 15m:

  • Rate of climb:

  • Service ceiling:

  • Max operating speed:

  • Max cruise speed:

  • Max range at cruise speed:

  • Stall speed:

  • G-loads:

  • Wing loading:

  • Thrust:

  • Bypass ratio:

  • Thrust/weight ratio:

  • 9150m.

  • 3539km with max payload, 7803km (4850 miles) with max fuel.

Engine Specifications

  • Make:

  • Model:

  • Type:

  • Number:

  • Compression ratio:

  • Engine diameter:

  • Engine length:

  • Dry weight:

  • Power turbine rotor speed:

  • Shaft horsepower:

Propeller:

  • Allison.

  • T56-A-7A.

  • Turboprop.

  • 4.

  • 4200.

Hard points:

Some models can accommodate under-wing hard-points for fuel tanks.

Armament:

None usually fitted, although the US operates a heavily armed gunship version code-named Spectre.

Other attachments:

None.

Comment:

The South African Air Force C-130 fleet consists of seven platforms (401 – 407) purchased in 1963 before a US arms embargo was imposed on South Africa’s apartheid government and five received in 1997/8 from the US (two ex-United States Air Force C-130B’s – 408 and 409 – and three ex-US Navy C-130F’s – 410 to 412 as part of their Excess Defence Articles programme. The two ex-US C-130B ‘s and a C-130F (411) were subsequently put in service, but the C-130F was retired soon thereafter. Aircraft 407 was retired in 2009, reducing the fleet to eight.

Various modifications have been accomplished on the original SAAF aircraft, the most significant being:
– Centre wing replacement and outer wing refurbishment from 1969 to 1972 done under the auspices of Lockheed.
– Engine upgrade from Allison T56-A-7 to T56-A-15 during the early 1970’s.
– Basic avionic upgrade during the early 1980’s.
The two ex-USAF C-130B’s had already been modified with the fitment of H-model outer wings and a centre wing similalr to that of the other SAAF aircraft.

The fleet underwent a major refit from December 1996, when Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge in the UK and Denel was contracted to upgrade the aircraft as part of Project Ebb, fitting inter alia digital avionics in the place of the electromechanical. The upgrade was not without delay and infighting between Marshalls and Denel and ran seven years past its expected date of completion, set for June 2002: the project wrapped up as late as July 2009.

The fate of one of the aircraft (402) is still in dispute. Its brakes caught fire during a landing after a test flight in early 2005 at the then-Johannesburg International Airport. Damage estimated in the millions of rand was inflicted on the aircraft and an equally damaging dispute then erupted between Denel and Marshalls as to whom had to carry the cost of the repairs. Another aircraft was also damaged while undergoing testing after upgrading – its fuel tanks were over-pressurised.

Seven of the nine were grounded in 2005 on the recommendation of the manufacturer after metal fatigue was discovered on the main spars and outer wing structures of several US C130Bs. As part of this the outer wings of aircraft 407 were removed. The aircraft was subsequently cannibalised and never returned to service. It was officially retired in July 2009. Lockheed Martin subsequently allowed three aircraft to resume flying, but in May 2006 the remaining four had to undergo a further battery of tests.

The SAAF plans to use the aircraft until 2015. The average SAAF C130 by 2007 had 10 000 hours on log1 (after 40 years of flying); while in the US it is 60 0002.

A Lockheed Martin sales team visited SA in October 2009 and were overheard by a source as postulating that here was a SAAF requirement for five new C130J aircraft.

.

1 CAF briefing, AFB Makhado, March 9, 2007.

2 By simple calculus South Africa’s C130BZ fleet needs to fly another 200 years before encountering the same problem. The calculus, of course, is not really that simple… The formula to determine wing wear includes variables such as hours flown, the weight loading of the aircraft, the type of surface landed or taken off from, etc.