Tuesday, 12 March 2019

the UK's RAF's Hercules fleet given new lease of life

Images: Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group
The UK's Hercules C-130J fleet based at RAF Brize Norton is having a major upgrade to extend its service life into 2030.

The first of the C-130J Hercules aircraft to undergo the major upgrade to extend its in-service life has been delivered to Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge.   Aircraft ZH867 was flown from its home base of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire by Officer Commanding No. 47 Squadron Wing Commander Andy Johnson on 1st March. All 14 aircraft in the fleet with undergo a 'centerwing' upgrade over the next few years, to ensure the versatile aircraft can continue in service until 2030.

The Hercules fleet first came into service with the RAF back in 1967 and since then these venerable aircraft have been the backbone of UK operations ever since.  Wing Commander Andy Johnson told Forces Radio BFBS: “It is the aircraft that’s always called on for a great number of tasks by defence and constantly delivers.  These aircraft have lasted 20 years and giving them this new lease of life is superb.”

The C-130K models were retired from service in 2013 after almost 5 decades of service, accumulating many more flying hours than predicted during Operations Telic and Herrick alongside the newer C-130J models, reports Forces.net.

The C-130J was due for retirement in 2022, however, the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review saw a need for the life of the fleet to be extended and this programme will ensure Hercules continue to deliver on operations for the UK up until 2030.