HC-130J Long Range Surveillance Aircraft, United States of America
HC-130J is a long range, multi-mission surveillance maritime patrol aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin, for the US Coast Guard (USCG). The aircraft can be deployed for search-and-rescue (SAR), surveillance, command-and-control, law enforcement, international ice patrol and homeland security missions. It also provides cargo and personnel transport for maritime safety and security teams, port security forces, and pollution prevention and National Strike Force personnel and equipment.
The USCG operates six HC-130J aircraft that are based at Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina. It also operates 22 HC-130H aircraft which are planned to be replaced with the new HC-130J aircraft by 2027. The HC-130H aircraft will be modernised with necessary structural improvements to extend their operational life until the replacement is done.
Rockwell Collins completed the cockpit and avionics upgrade of HC-130H aircraft and performed functional check flight in January 2013.
HC-130J orders and deliveries
Lockheed Martin delivered the first aircraft to the USCG in 2003. The first modernised HC-130J aircraft was rolled out in October 2007 and performed first test flight in January 2008. It further made a seven-hour test flight over open water in February 2008. The first modernised aircraft was delivered to the USCG under a $122m fixed-price contract, in March 2008. Six modernised aircraft were delivered to the USCG by May 2010.
HC-144A Ocean Sentry is a new maritime patrol aircraft being manufactured by EADS North America for the US Coast Guard (USCG).
The USCG awarded a $218m contract to Lockheed Martin for three additional aircraft in October 2012. Deliveries of the same are scheduled for 2015.
HC-130J design and features
The HC-130J surveillance aircraft delivers improved search, detection and tracking capabilities compared to the HC-130H aircraft. The 130J is a derivative of the KC-130J Tanker developed by Lockheed Martin for the US Marine Corps (USMC). The HC-130J can perform long-range patrol missions and features the basic airframe design of the legacy C-130 aircraft, which has been in service with the USCG since 1959.
The aircraft is equipped with new engines, advanced avionics systems and cargo-handling equipment for providing improved operational capability.
The HC-130J can carry a crew of three. It has a length of 99ft 7", height of 38ft 8" and wing span of 132ft 7". It weighs 75,743lb, whereas the gross weight is 175,000lb.
The HC-130J features a modernised glass cockpit with advanced avionics. It is equipped with a digital flight management system, a Collins DF-430 electronic direction finder and a FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE III imaging system to capture high-resolution imagery. It also incorporates a Saab Automatic Identification System vessel transponder interrogation system.
The aircraft's special mission systems feature a 360° belly-mounted long range search radar, nose-mounted electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) sensors and an advanced mission integrated communication suite including a high frequency (HF) data link and HF/ VHF/ UHF voice communication systems. It is also fitted with a flight deck mission operator station.
The global-positioning system (GPS) and inertial navigation systems provide improved situational awareness to the aircraft.
The flight deck is also fitted with command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.
Engine and performance
The HC-130J surveillance aircraft is powered by four efficient Allison 2100 turboprop engines delivered by Rolls-Royce. Each engine, rated at 5,600hp, measures 3m in length and 0.73m in diameter. The engines together drive four six-bladed Dowty propellers.
The aircraft can fly at a cruising speed of 374mph, which is 20% more than that of its predecessor, and has a range of 8,046km. The service ceiling of the aircraft is 33,000ft and endurance is up to 21 hours.