U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules aircraft with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152 and VMGR-252, conduct division tactical navigation training as part of unit-level training Evergreen at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, Aug. 14, 2017. Division tactical navigation training allows the squadrons’ aircraft to perform gear drops in close proximity to a single location enhancing operational efficiency. Evergreen will serve as VMGR-152’s 2017 Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation through tri-lateral training with the U.S. Army 160th Special operations Aviation Regiment and U.S. Army 1st Special Forces Group to gain valuable insight on the most recent Operation Inherent Resolve assault support tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Abrego)
The KC-130J is a versatile four-engine aircraft that provides the MAGTF tactical aerial refueling, assault-support, close air support, and multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance, day or night, under all weather conditions. It is the only long-range, fixed-wing assault support capability organic to the Marine Corps. The KC-130J, in addition to its increase in speed (+20%) and range (+35%) compared to the legacy KC-130T, also features an improved air-to-air refueling system and a state-of-the- art flight station. Other improvements include a Rolls Royce AE2100 propulsion system, a Dowty R391 advanced-technology, six-bladed propeller system, and a 250-knot cargo ramp and door. All of the active component KC-130 aircraft have been replaced with KC-130Js. Once the reserve squadrons have transitioned to the J-model, a transition that is scheduled to complete in FY26, the Marine Corps will consolidate to one type/model/series KC-130.
The KC-130J provides tactical in-flight refueling for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and tilt-rotor aircraft; aviation delivered ground refueling of aircraft or tactical vehicles; assault air transport or air-landed or aerial-delivered (parachute) personnel and equipment; pathfinder support, battlefield illumination; tactical aeromedical evacuation; and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel support.
The Marine Corps has also fielded a bolt-on/bolt-off Multi-sensor Imagery Reconnaissance (MIR)/ Weapon Mission Kit for in-service KC-130J aircraft. This kit, known as Harvest HAWK, reconfigures the KC-130J aircraft into a platform capable of performing persistent MIR, targeting and delivery of precision fires using Hellfire and Griffin munitions. Harvest HAWK is designed as a complementary capability that takes advantage of the aircraft’s extended endurance and not detract for the primary mission of air-to-air refueling. This force multiplier is well suited to the needs of the forward-deployed MAGTF. The KC-130J brings increased capability and mission flexibility to combat planning and operations.
The Marine Corps KC-130J requirement (active and reserve) is 79 aircraft. Current programming brings the total number of KC-130J aircraft to 66. Initial Operational Capability was achieved in 2005. The active component completed the divestment of legacy KC-130s in 2009, and the reserve component began the KC-130J transition in 2014. Program completion is scheduled for 2031.
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Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company,