The HC-130P/N "King" is the only dedicated fixed-wing Personnel Recovery platform in the Air Force inventory.
The HC-130P/N is an extended-range version of the C-130 Hercules transport. HC-130 crews provide expeditionary, all weather personnel recovery capabilities to our Combatant Commanders and Joint/Coalitions partners worldwide.
The mission of the HC-130P/N "King" is to rapidly deploy to austere airfields and denied territory in order to execute , all weather personnel recovery operations anytime...anywhere. 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.
When tasked, the aircraft also conducts humanitarian assistance operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation, casualty evacuation, noncombatant evacuation operations, and, during the Space Shuttle program, space flight support for NASA.
Modifications to the HC-130P/N are improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasures systems. 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.
Drop zone objectives are done via personnel drops and equipment drops. Rescue bundles include illumination flares, marker smokes and rescue kits. Helicopter air-to-air refueling can be conducted at night, with blacked out communication with up to two simultaneous helicopters. Additionally, forward area refueling point operations can be executed to support a variety of joint and coalition partners.
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.
In April 2006, the continental U.S. search and rescue mission was transferred back to Air Combat Command at Langley AFB, Va. 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, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. HC-130s also support continuous alert commitments in Alaska and the Horn of Africa.
Primary function: Rescue platform
Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Power Plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines
Thrust: 4,910 shaft horsepower, each engine
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)
Length: 98 feet, 9 inches (30.09 meters)
Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)
Weight: 83,000 pounds (37,648 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 73,000 pounds (10,724 gallons)
Payload: 30,000 pounds (13,608 kilograms)
Speed: 289 miles per hour (464 kilometers per hour) at sea level
Range: beyond 4,000 miles (3,478 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 33,000 feet (10,000 meters)
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
Unit Cost: $77 million (fiscal 2008 replacement cost)
Initial operating capability: 1964
Inventory: Active force, 13; ANG, 13; Reserve, 10