The C-130 Hercules, manufactured by Lockheed Aircraft, is the most versatile four-engine turboprop cargo aircraft and the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. The C-130 had its maiden flight on August 23, 1954. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 50 nations. Its uses appear almost limitless: airlift and airdrop, electronic surveillance, search and rescue, space-capsule recovery, helicopter refueling, landing (with skis) on snow and ice, and aerial attack. It has even landed and taken off from a carrier deck without benefit of arresting gear or catapults. The Hercules is also committed for airdrops of troops or equipment and for LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System) delivery of heavy cargoes. The C-130 Hercules has unsurpassed versatility, performance, and mission effectiveness.
The C-130H, a C-130 Hercules variant, has updated Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, a redesigned outer wing, updated avionics and other minor improvements. The improved C-130H was introduced in 1974. The H model remains in widespread use with the U.S Air Force (USAF) and many foreign air forces. Initial deliveries began in 1964 (to the RNZAF), remaining in production until 1996. Max speed is increased by 21 %, cruise-speed, cruise-height and range is increased by as much as 40 % and it only takes 14 minutes to reach an altitude of 28000 feet after take-off. Later H models had a latest, fatigue-life-improved, center wing that was retro-fitted to many earlier H-models.
The H-model has become the most produced of all C-130 models, with orders for 565 models as of the end of 1979.
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