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british special forces » uksf aviation » 47 squadron » special forces c4 & C5 Hercules
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RAF Special Forces C4 / C5 Hercules

47 Squadron Royal Air Force (47 Sqn RAF) fly various models of Hercules transport planes on special operations.

The squadron flies the baseline C-130J - designated in RAF service as the C5 -and the C-30J-30, a version with a longer fuselage, - designated as the C4.

47 Squadron Hercules C5
A C5 Hercules operated by 47 Squadron.

47 Sqn previously flew C1, C3 and C3a Hercules in the special operations role.

The C4 / C5 Hercules design has the following improvements over the aircraft previously flown by 47 Sqn:

  • 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 C4 model is a 'stretched' version, with a 15ft longer fuselage,. Due to their increased cargo-carrying capacity, the C4s are said to be the preferred variant for special operations.

Hercules C4
A 47 Squadron Hercules C4 - note the AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis DIRCM 'blisters' towards the rear of the fuselage.

RAF C4 / C5 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 C1, C3 and C3a aircraft. Specifics of the DASS fitted to any Special Forces-equipped C5 / C4 aircraft are hard to come by but some have speculated they would be similar to Special Forces C-130K 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 Hercules C4. Photographs of the aircraft showed the tell-tale exterior components of the AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis DIRCM system.

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

C-130J Hercules Specifications

Crew 3 - 2 pilots and a loadmaster
Cargo capacity 62 parachutists (C5)
92 parachutists (C4)
5 freight pallets (C5)
7 freight pallets (C4)
Maximum speed 645 kph
Range 2,835nm
Max takeoff weight 79,545 kg
Defences DASS defensive aids sub-system
Armament none

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