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RAF Special Forces C-130J - Hercules

The C-130J C.5 and C.4 Hercules are more modern versions of the (now retired from service) C-130K models. The C-130J is operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) including 47 Squadron, who fly the aircraft in the special operations role.

C-130Js have the following improvements over the older models:

  • Allison AE turboprops + Dowty Aerospace six-bladed composite propellers
    - more powerful engines and more efficient props create an improved performance when taking off and a better fuel efficiency, negating the need for external fuel tanks
  • Digital Glass Cockpit
    • 4x multifunction LCD displays units
    • 2x holographic Head Up Displays (HUD)
    • automatic flight control system
    • autothrottle
    • head down display
    • traffic collision avoidance system
    • ground collision avoidance system
    • compatible with night visions goggles (NVGs)
  • Lower operating costs
    • lower maintenance costs
    • less manpower costs (2-less crew needed)
  • Improved overall performance
    • 35% greater range
    • 42% higher cruising ceiling
    • 59% decrease in time-to-climb
    • 21% increase in maximum speed
    • 41% decrease in take-off run

The C.4 model is a 'stretched' version, with a 15ft longer fuselage and are said to be the preferred variant for special operations.

RAF C-130J Hercules are fitted with a defensive aids sub-system (DASS) as standard, although it is not as effective as the special kit previously carried by SF-equipped C.1 and C.3a aircraft. Specifics of the DASS fitted to any Special Forces-equipped C.5 / C,4 aircraft are hard to come by but some have speculated they would be similar to C.1 and C.3a fitments:

  • AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis directed IR countermeasures (DIRCM)
  • AN/AAR-47 electro-optical missile warning system
  • AN/APR-39A Radar Warning Receivers
  • 3x AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispensers on either side of the lower nose

note: when 47 Squadron were tasked with evacuating British nationals from Libya in 2011, at least one of the aircraft used was a C-130J C4. Photographs of the aircraft showed the tell-tale exterior components of the AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis DIRCM system.

C-130J Hercules Specifications

Crew 3 - 2 pilots and a loadmaster
Cargo capacity 64 fully-equipped parachutists
Maximum speed 645 kph
Range 2,835nm
Max takeoff weight 79,545 kg
Defences DASS defensive aids sub-system
Armament none


47 Squadron C-130J
A C-130J Hercules operated by 47 Squadron RAF prepares to take off.
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia /Released

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