Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Service: United States Air Force
Power Plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines
Speed: 289 miles per hour (464 kilometers per hour) at sea level
Range: beyond 4,000 miles (3,478 nautical miles)
Armament: countermeasures/flares, chaff
Crew: Three officers (pilot, co-pilot, navigator) and four enlisted (flight engineer, airborne communications specialist, two loadmasters). Additional crewmembers include a Guardian Angel team consisting of one combat rescue officer and three pararescuemen
The HC-130P/N King is a variant of the Hercules aircraft devoted to fixed-wing rescue of personnel in combat environments and the delivery of rescue personnel and equipment.
King crews routinely perform high and low altitude personnel & equipment airdrops, infiltration/exfiltration of personnel, helicopter air-to-air refueling, and forward area refueling point missions. The aircraft fleet has a fully-integrated inertial navigation and global positioning systems, and night vision goggle, or NVG, compatible interior and exterior lighting. It also has forward-looking infrared, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, satellite and data-burst communications.
The HC-130 can fly in the day; however, crews normally fly night at low to medium altitude levels in contested or sensitive environments, both over land or overwater. Crews use NVGs for tactical flight profiles to avoid detection to accomplish covert infiltration/exfiltration and transload operations. To enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, crews employ tactics that include incorporating no external lighting or communications, and avoiding radar and weapons detection.
The HC-130P/N is the only dedicated fixed-wing combat search and rescue platform in the Air Force inventory. The 71st and 79th Rescue Squadrons in Air Combat Command, the 550th Special Operations Squadron in Air Education and Training Command, the 920th Rescue Group in Air Force Reserve Command and the 106th Rescue Wing, 129th RQW and 176th Wing in the Air National Guard operate the aircraft. First flown in 1964, the aircraft has served many roles and missions. It was initially modified to conduct search and rescue missions, provide a command and control platform, in-flight-refuel helicopters and carry supplemental fuel for extending range and increasing loiter time during search operations. The HC-130P/N will soon be replaced by the HC-130J.