The HC-130P/N is an extended-range, combat search and rescue version of the C-130 Hercules transport. Its mission is to extend the range of combat search and rescue helicopters by providing air refueling in hostile or contested airspace if required.
Secondary mission capabilities include performing tactical delivery via airdrop or airland of pararescue specialist teams, small bundles, zodiac watercraft, or four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles; and providing direct assistance to a survivor in advance of the arrival of a recovery vehicle.
Other capabilities are extended visual and electronic searches over land or water, tactical approaches and unimproved airfield operations at day or night, using night vision goggles. A team of three pararescue specialists, trained in emergency trauma medicine, harsh environment survival and assisted evasion techniques, is part of the basic mission crew complement.
Combat Air Forces HC-130 aircraft are undergoing extensive modifications. Ongoing modifications include night vision goggle-compatible interior and exterior lighting, a personnel locator system compatible with aircrew survival radios, forward-looking infrared systems and advanced integrated radios.
The HC-130 can fly in the day against a reduced threat; however, crews normally fly night, low-level, air refueling and airdrop operations using night vision goggles. It can fly low-level NVG tactical flight profiles to avoid detection. 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 102nd RQS and 210th RQS in the Air National Guard, and the 39th RQS in the Air Force Reserve Command 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 or air refueling.
In April 2006, the continental U.S. search and rescue mission was transferred back to Air Combat Command at Langley AFB, Virginia. From 2003 to 2006, the mission was under the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Previously, HC-130s were assigned to ACC from 1992 to 2003. They were first assigned to the Air Rescue Service as part of Military Airlift Command. They have been deployed to Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey in support of operations Southern and Northern Watch, Allied Force and Iraqi Freedom. HC-130s also support continuous alert commitments in Alaska, Iceland and Japan, and provide rescue coverage for space shuttle operations in Florida.
: Air refueling for combat search and rescue helicopters
Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines
4,910 shaft horsepower each engine
132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)
98 feet, 9 inches (30.09 meters)
38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)
83,000 pounds (37,648 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight:
155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
73,000 pounds (10,724 gallons)
30,000 pounds (13,608 kilograms)
289 miles per hour (464 kilometers per hour) at sea level
beyond 4,000 miles (3,478 nautical miles)
33,000 feet (10,000 meters)
Three officers (pilot, co-pilot, navigator) and seven enlisted (flight engineer, airborne communications specialist, two loadmasters and three pararescuemen)
$18.4 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars)
Initial operating capability:
Active force, 13; ANG, 13; Reserve, 10
Point of Contact
Air Combat Command
, Public Affairs Office; 130 Andrews St., Suite 202; Langley AFB, VA 23665-1987; DSN 574-5007 or 757-764-5007