posted by Jiri Wagner
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has carried out the first flight of a KC-130J being built for the United States Marine Corps. This version of the C-130J Hercules will be used for air-to-air refuelling, rapid ground refuelling and airlift roles.
The USMC has eight of these aircraft on order, with three more currently in the 2001 Defence Budget. At least 51 tankers will be needed to replace the Marine Corps' current fleet of ageing KC-130F/Rs. The first of these new aircraft is scheduled for delivery later this year.
KC-130J on first flight, without wing mounted refuelling pods
The KC-130J has a 57,500 pound (8,455 US gallons) fuel offload capacity using wing fuel and external tanks. The aircraft also has the capability to carry an additional 24,392 pounds (3,600 US gallons) of fuel in a specially configured internal fuselage tank. The tanker's standard probe-and-drogue configuration is suited for refuelling helicopters and jet aircraft. Internal provisions for its own refuelling probe provide even greater flexibility if required in the future.
The nucleus of the new KC-130J is the Flight Refuelling Ltd. (FRL) Mark32B- 901E aerial refuelling system. It features microprocessor-controlled, electrically driven hose reel units ensuring improved reliability, fuel flow and receiver compatibility over previous KC-130 systems. The FRL system allows fuel delivery pressure and flow rates to be adjusted at the hose end to better suit various receivers, while ram air turbine-driven fuel boost pumps in each pod improve fuel off-load performance.