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Air Force Featured Stories

AF’s newest Herc joins Ramstein AB fleet

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A new model C-130J Super Hercules arrived at Ramstein Air Base Dec. 4, 2017, as part of a rotational process to upgrade existing aircraft.

A crew assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron crossed the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve the aircraft from the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company production facility, in Marietta, Georgia.

The C-130J, an upgraded version of the C-130 Hercules legacy model, adds 15 feet to the fuselage and increases usable space in the cargo compartment. The new aircraft replaces one of 14 C-130J’s at Ramstein AB, helping avoid potential problems with the Air Force’s aging fleet.

“I can’t overstate the importance and significance of rebalancing our fleet,” said Col. Joseph Wenckus, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander, “Replacing older aircraft rotationally allows us to balance out the number of older and newer planes in any given location, which strengthens the force.”

The concept, according to Air Mobility Command, is called “Enterprise Fleet Management,” and allows extended aircraft life by rotating aircraft amongst units across the Air Force.

Some aircraft are more vulnerable due to the operational environment or requirements driven by mission demands, shortening the lifespan of any given aircraft, said Wenckus.

“With missions, required maintenance and wear and tear more spaced-out across all Air Force units, we are able to better maintain Ramstein [AB’s] tactical airlift fleet and continue to serve two combatant commands,” said Wenckus.

According to Lockheed Martin, the aircraft is built on the legacy of the basic C-130 design, however, the C-130J features a large, unobstructed, fully-pressurized cargo hold that can be rapidly reconfigured for carrying troops, stretchers, passengers, or airdrop of troops and equipment into battle zones.

The aircraft also features upgraded avionics, improved lift capacity, superior climb performance and long-range landing field capabilities.

“The avionics are astronomically better in this aircraft than the older legacy model,” said Maj. Kyle Bucher, 37th AS C-130J pilot. “It has improved performance, it’s faster, burns less fuel, carries more and requires fewer crew members.”

The versatile aircraft is used across the Air Force for medical evacuation, humanitarian, airdrop, cargo delivery, firefighting, aerial refueling, aerial spray and arctic support missions.

With continuous production longer than any other military aircraft, the C-130J has earned a reputation as a workhorse ready for any mission, anytime, anywhere.

The 37th AS provides air support to European Command and Africa Command, ensuring tactical airlift assets and mission readiness for the theatre, said 1st Lt. Melinda Marlow, 37th AS C-130J pilot.

“The thing I love the most about the Herc is the mission support role that we play,” Marlow said. “It’s the sound of home. Whether it’s picking personnel up from deployment, bringing beans and bullets, or dropping Christmas care packages to deployed locations, I believe the C-130J is the best aircraft in the Air Force.”