The Lockheed Martin C130 Hercules was first flown in 1954. Currently is the West's most popular and widely used military transport aircraft. It is in service with more than 60 operators worldwide. In many cases the C-130 is the largest cargo aircraft in their inventory. Deliveries began in 1956. By 2012 over 2 400 of these airlifters have been built.
This aircraft was originally intended for troop/cargo transportation and medical evacuation. The C130 Hercules can carry 92 passengers, 72 fully equipped troops or 64 paratroopers.
This airlifter made it's name for reliability. The C130 Hercules is capable of short takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways.
Throughout most of its career the basic airframe of the C130 has changed very little. A versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of roles. A number of specialized variants emerged. These include search and rescue, reconnaissance, electronic intelligence, gunship, refueller, maritime patrol and firefighting. A stretched-fuselage option is available. Over 40 models of the C130 were built.
Some variants of the C130
C130A initial production model. These airlifters served through the Vietnam War;
C130B improved model, introduced in 1959. It had uprated engines, new propellers and increased fuel capacity;
C130D aircraft equipped or retrofitted with giant skis. These were essentially the C130A models;
C130E extended range model, fitted with external fuel tanks. It also had more powerful engines and upgraded avionics. This model entered service in 1962 (491 built);
C130F, C130G and KC-130F aerial refueling tankers, fitted with removable fuel tanks inside the cargo compartment;
C130H improved model, fitted with updated engines and improved avionics. It's deliveries commenced in 1964 and it remains the workhorses of the USAF's tactical transport fleet. This variant is also operational with most European air arms (1 089 built);
C130J Super Hercules, the latest production and much improved variant, fitted with new engines and avionics. It is in service with the United Kingdom as the Hercules C.5;
C130K an export model to the United Kingdom. Locally it is referred as the Hercules C.1;
HC130N/P long-range SAR variant, used by the US Air Force;
DC130 drone control aircraft;
EC130 electronic warfare aircraft;
MC130 Combat Talon special forces support aircraft;
RC130 reconnaissance aircraft.