A History of the Hercules
The Canadian Forces have flown variants of the CC-130 Hercules aircraft since 1960. Over its long life, this versatile workhorse has proven to be invaluable primarily as a tactical lift aircraft – transporting people and equipment over moderate distances within a theatre of operations (e.g. as part of an “air bridge”), often under austere and challenging conditions. The “Herc” has also served as a tactical air-to-air refueller, a search and rescue aircraft, and has even taken on long-range strategic transport missions when required. This latter role has recently been filled by the impressive new CC-177 Globemaster, which was designed specifically for the very long range and massive payload requirements of strategic airlift.
The fleet of 19 E-model and 13 H-model Hercules aircraft have served Canadians well at home and abroad, from deployed operations in Afghanistan and Haiti, to domestic emergencies like the Ice Storm of 1998, the Manitoba floods of 1997 and the BC forest fires of 2003. In fact, Canada’s older E-model Hercules aircraft have logged more flying hours than any comparable Hercules in the world. These aircraft are now being withdrawn from service as they reach the end of their economic life, six of the E models have already been retired and it is expected that all remaining E models will be withdrawn by spring 2012. New aircraft are required to restore and revitalize Canada’s tactical airlift fleet.
Canada First Defence Strategy: Meeting the Need
In June 2006, the Government of Canada announced its intentions to acquire a new tactical transport aircraft fleet to replace the E-model Hercules. In accordance with the principles of the Canada First Defence Strategy, this initiative will provide the Canadian Forces with the equipment they need to perform their mandated missions, in this instance the vital mission of tactical airlift. The new aircraft will meet the demanding requirements for operating safely and effectively in Canada’s vast territory, harsh climate and diverse geography. In addition, it will ensure that Canada can continue to provide a credible and independent response to international emergencies anywhere and anytime it is needed. A robust and versatile tactical airlift capability clearly supports the tenets of the Canada First Defence Strategy.
A Solicitation of Interest and Qualification (SOIQ) was issued to provide an open and competitive opportunity for industry to propose solutions to Canada’s tactical airlift requirement. In December 2007, a contract valued at approximately USD $1.4 billion was awarded to Lockheed Martin to provide Canada with 17 new state-of-the-art J-model Hercules aircraft.
Later, in February 2009, the Government of Canada announced that Montreal-based CAE would be the single operational training systems provider for the CC-130J Hercules and CH-147F Chinook fleets. CAE was awarded CAD $346 million to establish a world-class aircrew training capability for the CC-130J Hercules fleet. That contract was amended in March 2010 to include an additional CAD $250 million for the Chinook fleet.
In January 2010, it was announced that a CAD $723 million contract amendment had been reached with Lockheed Martin Corporation for in-service support to maintain the new fleet until June 30, 2016. The amendment also includes mechanisms to extend this maintenance support for the full life cycle of the aircraft, ensuring Canada can maintain its tactical airlift capability. Both the maintenance and training contracts state that Lockheed Martin and CAE are required to invest in the Canadian economy – matching dollar for dollar the value of their respective contracts – thus ensuring long-term job creation and economic activity in Canada.
Renewal of the tactical airlift fleet is coordinated and integrated with the modernization of Canadian Forces infrastructure. All 17 CC-130Js will be based at 8 Wing Trenton, thus obtaining maximum operational and financial efficiencies from common training, maintenance and infrastructure requirements. For the latter, in September 2009, an infrastructure project was announced to construct a new 17,000 m2 facility at 8 Wing. The Air Mobility Training Centre (AMTC) will house the equipment and personnel required to train operators and maintainers of the CC-130J Hercules aircraft. Construction of the hangar began in late fall 2009 and completion is anticipated for summer 2012. This project is valued at approximately CAD $84.2 million with CAD $40.5 million to Pomerleau Inc., of Ottawa. The AMTC will generate an estimated 454 direct employment opportunities throughout the course of the work.
Canada’s first CC-130J was delivered from the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Georgia to 8 Wing Trenton on June 4, 2010 – six months ahead of the original delivery schedule. The remaining aircraft will begin delivery in winter 2010 as planned and in accordance with the original contract, beginning in winter 2010 with delivery completed in 2012. To emphasize the “newness” of this aircraft, the J models have been given a new series of tail numbers – the 600 series. The older Hercules have 300 series tail numbers (e.g., 130337). Thus, the first CC-130J Hercules has the tail number 130601.
About the CC-130J Hercules
The CC-130J may look similar to its predecessors, but it is in fact a greatly improved aircraft. The J model is a four-engine, fixed-wing turboprop tactical transport aircraft with a rear cargo ramp, rugged landing gear, excellent short-field performance and high ground clearance for engines and propellers for operations on unprepared airstrips. An extremely versatile aircraft, it can be used for troop transport, tactical airlift (both palletized and vehicular cargo), as well as aircrew training and qualification.
The new CC-130J has an enhanced cargo handling system and a two-person, state-of-the-art flight station that includes four multifunctional LCD displays; two holographic head-up displays (HUD); and electronic, digital readouts for aircraft flight controls and operating and navigating systems. Defence systems include a missile warning and countermeasures dispensing system and radar warning receiver.
The new CC-130J is actually stretched by 4.6m (15 feet) compared to the existing Hercules, allowing for significantly more cargo space. With a top cruising speed of 660 kilometres per hour and a maximum range is 6,852 kilometres, the J-model can fly faster, further and more efficiently than older models. It also carries more passengers and cargo; up to 92 combat troops or 128 non-combat passengers. Not only is the new Hercules a more capable aircraft, it also requires fewer crew members than the existing Hercules; it flies with a minimum crew of three – two pilots and a loadmaster – compared to a crew of five for the current aircraft.
The new CC-130J aircraft is both proven and improved. Early delivery of this impressive aircraft represents a major milestone in fulfilling the requirements of the Canada FirstDefence Strategy. Canadians and Canada’s interests will be well-served by the world-class and versatile J model “Super Hercules” for many years to come, whether across the country or around the world.