By Prashant Prabhakar
An updated version of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft with new engines, flight deck and other systems.
The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission and is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. The flexible design of the Hercules enables it to be configured for many different missions, allowing one aircraft to perform the role of many.
It is designed in such a way that it can be rapidly reconfigured for the various types of cargo such as palletized equipment, floor-loaded material, airdrop platforms, container delivery system bundles and aeromedical evacuation.
The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet and has replaced aging C-130Es and some of the high time C-130Hs. With a demonstrated performance of more than 2 million flight hours supporting tactical airlift, search and rescues, special operations and refueling missions around the globe, the C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced C-130 ever designed.
Specifications and performance
3 (two pilots, and one loadmaster are minimum crew)
|Payload main||42,000 lb (19,051 kg)|
|Max take-off weight||155,000 lb (70,307 kg)|
|Powerplant||4 ×Rolls Royce 2100 AE engines|
|Propellers||6-bladed Dowty R391 composite constant-speed fully-feathering reversible-pitch propellers|
|Cruise speed||644 km/h|
|Range||3,300 km at max normal payload|
|Service ceiling||28,000 ft with 42,000 lb|
The C-130J Hercules is the only model in production and as of March 2022, 500 C-130J aircraft were delivered to 26 operators in 22 countries.
India’s C-130J Hercules
Powered by four Rolls-Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six-bladed props that provide the aircraft with a great deal of power, the aircraft has operated for the past several years in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan (in conditions similar to India) and shown exceptional performance.
The heart of the new Super Hercules advanced technology is its modern flight station with multi-function, LCD screen for aircraft flight control, operating, and navigation systems. In addition to the four displays on the instrument panel, pilots use holographic head-up displays as primary flight instruments, a precedent among military transports.
The Embraer C-390 millennium
Produced by the Brazilian Aerospace Manufacturer Embraer, the Embraer C-390 Millennium is a medium-size, twin-engine, jet-powered military transport aircraft and can be configured to perform various conventional operations such as troop, VIP and cargo transportation, and more specialised logistical operations such as aerial refuelling as a tanker.
The C-390 has been marketed as a jet-powered alternative to the C-130 Hercules produced by Lockheed Martin and is the largest and most complicated aircraft ever built by Embraer.
Having made its first flight in February 2015, the KC-390 can carry out a range of missions, including humanitarian support, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, and aerial refuelling.
Designed to be reconfigured in less than three hours to support different missions, it is powered by two turbofans, can be refuelled in-flight and also used for mid-air refuelling of other aircraft.
Featuring fly-by-wire technology, which considerably reduces pilot workload, the aircraft uses computed air release point (CARP) technology to provide greater accuracy during air dropping, thereby reducing crew workload.
The cockpit is equipped with Collins Aerospace’s Pro Line Fusion avionics system which features five 15in, night vision imaging system (NVIS) compatible, high-resolution LCD displays.
The advanced avionics system also enables enhanced situational awareness, due to its synthetic vision capabilities and graphical flight planning.
The self-protection suite
The self-protection suite (SPS) of the tactical aircraft includes detection and countermeasures such as radar warning receiver (RWR), missile approach warning system (MAWS), laser warning system (LWS), enhanced vision system (EVS), and directional infrared counter measures (DIRCM).
Additionally, it also features ballistic armour protection against 7.62mm bullets and is equipped with chaff and flare systems to distract and counter incoming missile threats.
The aircraft’s propulsion system features two International Aero Engines’ (IAE) V2500-E5 engines, each providing an upward thrust of approximately 31,330lb (138kN) and a fully electronic aircraft-to-engine interface.
The KC-390 is equipped with double chamber shocker absorber system and modern hydraulic systems that enable the aircraft to operate with heavy payloads and land even on semi-prepared airfields.
Specifications and performance
|Crew||Three flight crew (2 pilots, 1 loadmaster)|
|Max take-off weight||86,999 kg|
|Powerplant||2 × IAE V2500-E5 turbofan|
|Cruise speed||870 km/h|
|Service ceiling||36,000 ft|
|Armament (Headpoints)||3 with a capacity of POD Optical / IR Rafael Litening II / IFR Cobham 900E|
According to Embraer, the company is in talks with Indian authorities with its C-390 Millennium offering. It has collaborated with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to produce three ‘Netra’ AEW&C on the Embraer ERJ145 platform which is operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
(The author is an avid aviation professional, holds a degree in aerospace engineering. Before diving in to acquire a Flight dispatcher licence from DGCA he got valuable industry experience working for Indigo as Technical officer. Now he is providing his services to a growing firm which provides for leading non-scheduled operators in India. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).