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C-130 celebrates 60 years, still going strong

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history. (U.S. Air Force photo)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- In 1954, the song "Rock Around the Clock" was playing on the radio, Oprah Winfrey was born and the first issue of Sports Illustrated appeared on newsstands.

The same year, on August 23, the YC-130 Hercules made its maiden flight at the Lockheed Martin plant in Burbank, California, and the C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history.

The need for the C-130 came from Air Force's Tactical Air Command during 1951, after the Korean War, to fill a void for medium-cargo tactical transport.

"In its first six decades, the C-130 shaped aviation history, redefined industry standards and exhibited flexibility that other aircraft have yet to match," said George Shultz, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of C-130 programs, in a Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company press release. "The C-130 remains the world's most proven airlifter because of its ability to adapt, remain relevant and deliver results no matter the mission."

The C-130 is the most modified aircraft in the Air Force with multiple variants and hundreds of configurations, according to the Air Mobility Commanc Historian Office. The C-130 is used for airlift, aeromedical missions, personnel and cargo airdrop, natural disaster relief missions, Antarctic resupply to the National Science Foundation, weather reconnaissance, aerial spray missions and firefighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service. The C-130 can airlift 92 ground troops, 64 fully-equipped paratroopers, 74 litter patients or 45,000 pounds of cargo.

The C-130J, which is the latest version of the venerable platform, was introduced February of 1999.

To date, the Air Force has 145 C-130s in the active force, 181 in the Air National Guard and 102 in the Air Force Reserve.

Currently, two Defense Department C-130 Hercules equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyoming, are assisting with wildfire suppression in the Northwest, Great Basin, under the command and control of U.S. Northern Command.

Information from a Lockheed Martin press release contributed to this article.

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