Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules 50th Anniversary
Celebrating 50 years of RAF C-130 Hercules Operations
December 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules operations. The first of 66 legacy C-130s was delivered to the United Kingdom on Dec. 16, 1966.
The RAF’s Hercules fleet has been supporting critical missions ever since. From delivering supplies to people in need to supporting vital military operations, the RAF C-130 fleet is one of the most tasked in the world.
Salutes go out to the many men and women – past and present -- of the RAF and the British aerospace industry who fly, maintain and support this C-130 fleet. Here’s to five decades of RAF C-130 operations and the many years more to come
First Hercs for RAF
In 1965, the RAF ordered 66 C-130Ks, which were basically C-130Es with some specific changes. This was one of the largest orders of C-130s to date, giving the United Kingdom one of the largest Hercules fleets in the world.
The first of these Hercs (XV177) was delivered to RAF on Dec. 16, 1966.
One Herc, Many Missions
By the 1970s, the RAF had its full fleet of C-130Ks and used the aircraft for many different missions, from cargo delivery to peacekeeping exercises to delivering humanitarian aid. One of the RAF’s C-130s supported a unique mission and had an equally as unique nickname.
The RAF modified one C-130, the Hercules W Mk. 2 (XV208) for meteorological research. Universally known as “Snoopy,” this Herc was converted by Marshall Aerospace & Defence in Cambridge in 1972 for the RAF. Snoopy was flown by the Meteorological Research Flight for several decades.
Herc Earns Its Stripes
The RAF relied upon its Hercs for many missions in the 1980s, but the most well-known was during the Falklands War in 1982. This was the first time the RAF deployed its C-130Ks into a combat zone. During the course of the war’s six weeks, RAF C-130Ks crews logged more than 10,000 flying hours.
Making Herc History
The RAF made history in 1995 when it became the launch operator for the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production variant of the C-130. The RAF received its first C-130J in 1998, with 24 additional aircraft following to round out its fleet.
Supporting the Herc
2006 marked the 40th anniversary of Marshall Aerospace’s and Lockheed Martin’s mutual support of the RAF C-130 fleet. It also was the year that U.K. Ministry of Defence awarded Marshall the Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) contract to support the RAF’s C-130J fleet. Marshall teamed with Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce for HIOS. The U.K. renewed the HIOS contract in 2015, extending this partnership through 2022.
Honoring A Legend
While the RAF Hercs are often deployed, one C-130J made a special appearance with a very special tail flash at the 2016 Royal International Air Tattoo in England. Thousands of visitors toured the C-130J during RIAT, getting a rare chance to see this iconic workhorse up close and personal.
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