The French Air Force has received the first of two American-made KC-130J Hercules tanker aircraft, according to a statement issued Thursday by Lockheed Martin.
France will receive a total of four Super Hercules aircraft — two C-130J-30 combat delivery airlifters and two KC-130J aerial refuelers — through a Foreign Military Sale with the U.S. government. The two C-130J-30 airlifters were delivered in 2017 and 2018, and a second KC-130J will deliver in 2020. All of these Super Hercules are operated in conjunction with France’s existing C-130H fleet.
“The KC-130J provides Armée de l’Air crews with a proven solution that delivers much-needed fuel in any environment, at any time,” said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. “In choosing to operate both the C-130J-30 and the KC-130J, France has built a diverse airlift fleet that expands both the capabilities and global reach of the French Armed Forces.”
France is the 17th country to choose the C-130J for its airlift needs. The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced tactical airlifter in operation today, offering superior performance and enhanced capabilities with the range and versatility for every theater of operations and evolving requirements.
The KC-130J is a battle-tested solution that takes full advantage of the tremendous technological and performance improvements inherent in the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. The KC-130Js assigned to U.S. Marine Corps units have more than 20,000 hours of flight in Iraq. The KC-130J is battle-tested and delivers capabilities that enables fleets around the world to keep flying.
The KC-130J refuels both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft as well as conducts rapid ground refueling. The aicraft offers a 60,000 lbs fuel capacity that it can allocate between its own flight requirements against aerial refueling offload capacity using its wing and external tanks while in the air. When more fuel is needed, an additional 11,064 kg (24,392 lbs) of fuel can be offloaded from a specially configured internal fuselage 13,627 L (3,600-gallon) aluminum fuel tank. The system also functions without the fuselage tank, so the cargo compartment can be used for cargo on the same mission, giving the aircraft even greater flexibility.
With this delivery, France joins a global community of KC-130J operators. In 2018, Germany announced the acquisition of a C-130J-30/KC-130J fleet, to be operated in partnership with France — making this first such operator relationship in C-130J history.