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First flying 68 years ago, the Lockheed Hercules is a four-engine military transport plane that has seen extensive service throughout NATO and other nations around the world. The Hercules is still in production as the C-130J Super Hercules. In addition to transport, operators of the C-130 have found a variety of different uses for the type. This has included being a gunship armed with artillery cannons, search and rescue, scientific research, aerial refuelling, electronic combat and maritime patrol to name but a few. Whilst the C-130J is still in production and is still receiving new orders, the RAF were the launch customer for this new version of the Hercules in 1995 and will be retiring their last example shortly before this year's Air Tattoo.
The KC-130J is capable of refuelling any aircraft that uses the hose and probe refuelling method. The Italian Air Force completed testing of the KC-130J with the Typhoon in 2008, two years after they began to convert eight of their existing C-130J Hercules to KC-130J tanker standard. In addition to aerial refuelling, the aircraft are still fully capable of conducting cargo and troop transport operations. Today the fleet stands at seven aircraft after one was sadly lost in an accident during 2009.
A single Italian Air Force KC-130J will be appearing on static display at this year's Air Tattoo and will be provided by the 46ª Brigata Aerea based close to Pisa. The Hercules will be parked together with other Italian Air Force aircraft both old and new as part of our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Italian Air Force, the Hercules will also be taking part in our SKYTANKER theme. Photo Credit: Paul Fiddian