AFTER a lengthy 34-year career with the Royal Australian Air Force, the C-130H Hercules will participate in its final major tactical exercise before being retired from December 2012.
The C-130H’s role of tactical airlift will be passed onto the newer generation C-130J. The two Hercules types are both currently at RAAF Base in Darwin for Exercise Pitch Black 12 and being operated by No. 37 Squadron.
According to the Squadron Leader Andrew Johnson, Detachment Commander for the Hercules at Pitch Black, he was proud to be working on one of the C-130H’s final exercises.
“The C-130H has a long history of attending exercises like Pitch Black, both overseas and within Australia, as well as deploying on operations and humanitarian relief,” Squadron Leader Johnson said.
Powered by four turbo-prop engines and with an empty weight of around 35 tonnes, the Hercules shares few similarities with the supersonic fighter jets that are normally found at Exercise Pitch Black 12. However, the Hercules’ main advantage is its ability to fly from short, semi-prepared runways while carrying 90 passengers or up to 20 tonnes.
“Having been associated with the C-130H for so long I’m sad to see them going, but relishing the opportunity to be in Darwin and flying on this exercise,” Squadron Leader Johnson said.
The two Hercules variants will attempt to evade enemy fighters and ground threats in the exercise area, whilst simultaneously delivering vehicles and personnel from No. 4 Squadron’s Combat Control Teams on the outback runway at Delamere Range Facility.
The exercise will be used as an opportunity to share and transfer the knowledge and experience between the Hercules variants.
“This is also an opportunity for our C-130H aircrew to capitalise on their experience with large formations of aircraft in a coalition environment, before they move on to other aircraft types,” Squadron Leader Johnson said.