The second of two Lockheed Martin KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueling aircraft has arrived in France, the French Air Force said in a release.
The delivery was the last of four C-130J Super Hercules variants – two KC-130J and two C-130J-30 aircraft – that were ordered through a foreign military sale with the U.S. government in January 2016.
It was received by the Armée de l’Air at Marietta, Georgia on February 4, Lockheed said, and landed at Orleans on February 7, the release said.
Two C-130J-30 aircraft – a stretched version of the C-130J Super Hercules airlifter – were delivered in 2017 and 2018, and the first KC-130J was received by France in September 2019.
“The acquisition of this fleet of C-130J Super Hercules is intended to strengthen the tactical transport capabilities of the Air Force,” complementing the C-130H Hercules, C-160 Transall and CN-235 Casa aircraft already in service, the release said.
“While these aircraft are very much used in external operations, especially in the Sahelo-Saharan strip, the acquisition of two KC-130J will effectively support operational activity from 2020,” it said.
The KC-130J can refuel both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, and can conduct rapid ground refueling.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly highlighted the aircraft’s helicopter refueling capability.
The KC-130J give the French Air Force a unique capacity in Europe, the release said, enabling the in-flight refueling of H225M Caracal helicopters.
The aircraft will be based at Air Base 123 in Orléans-Bricy, and the four C-130Js will move to Air Base 105 in Évreux by the summer of 2021.
In a global first, they will be deployed alongside six German Super Hercules in a Franco-German binational unit. Germany announced the acquisition of a C-130J-30/KC-130J fleet in 2018.
“France’s C-130 crews have long demonstrated the unmatched and proven performance of the Hercules aircraft in support of critical missions,” said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. “This additional KC-130J expands the Armée de l‘Air’s already robust airlift and refueling resources to not only serve as a national asset, but a global resource as well.”
Lockheed says 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 Super Hercules global fleet has more than two million flight hours, according to the company.