UK ends operations with Hercules, Argentina receives another aging C-130H

Royal Air Force performed final flight with the C-130J while South American Air Force incorporated 34-year-old aircraft passed on by the US Air National Guard

Two air forces that clashed four decades ago have had opposing views over the Hercules turboprop in recent days. The Royal Air Force (RAF) marked the completion of the operation with the C-130J on June 4 while the Argentine Air Force received two days later a C-130H, an older variant of the Lockheed Martin aircraft.

The most popular military tactical transport aircraft in history, the Hercules has been in service since 1956 and continues to provide valuable service in many countries.

However, some air forces have sought out other aircraft to carry out tactical transport, search and rescue, and aerial refueling missions, among others.

Royal Air Force C130J and the new Argentine C-130H (RAF/FAA)

This is what happened to the RAF, which operated the most current version of the Hercules, the C-130J, since 1999. In 2021, however, the United Kingdom decided to withdraw the turboprop from service due to cost reasons.

Its replacement will be the Airbus A400M, an aircraft with twice the capacity of the Hercules and which is designated Atlas C.1 in the RAF.

The Royal Air Force concluded the last official Hercules mission when an aircraft from 47 Squadron flew from Akrotiri in the Mediterranean to Brize Norton Air Base on 4 June.

The farewell to the C-130J, however, should take place on June 17, during the King’s Birthday Parade celebrations in London when three aircraft will perform a flypast.

The C-130J has been in service with RAF since 1999 (RAF)

“New” old aircraft

In the southern hemisphere, the situation was opposite. With budget constraints for several years, the Argentine Air Force incorporated a C-130H Hercules, the seventh in the fleet.

The arrival of the turboprop, however, was cause for celebration, with the presence of the Minister of Defense of the country, Jorge Taiana, and the Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier General Xavier Isaac.

Argentine Defense Minister receives the 34-year-old C-130 Hercules (ADM)

Bearing the registration number TC-60 “Pioneros de la Aviaci√≥n Militar”, the Hercules was treated as a “new” aircraft, despite its age. The aircraft has been in service for 34 years and flew with the US Air National Guard until long ago.

Like other examples in service, the C-130H TC-60 will receive a modernization kit before executing missions.

KC-390 order faded

Argentina’s focus on the C-130H contrasts with the situation in neighboring Brazil, where the Hercules is about to have its last four planes decommissioned.

The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) and Embraer have developed the KC-390 Millennium jet to replace the veteran turboprop since 2019. For this purpose, 19 aircraft have been ordered, six of which have already been delivered.

Embraer KC-390 (FAB)

Argentina should have been a customer of the C-390, with which it is a partner in the project. The company FAdeA supplies parts of the Brazilian aircraft such as the tail cone, the cargo door and the landing gear.

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In 2010, the Argentine Air Force showed interest in acquiring six C-390s but an agreement was never signed.


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