Royal Australian Air Force celebrates 20 years of C-130J Hercules transport aircraft

HAWKESBURY locals lined the roads around RAAF Base Richmond on Friday to watch a formation of six Hercules aircraft departing from the base as part of a 20-year celebration.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrated 20 years of operating the C-130J model of the Hercules transport aircraft, with a flypast departing RAAF Base Richmond.

In September 1999, the first of 12 C-130J Hercules flown by No. 37 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond was delivered to Australia; the fleet has since flown 137,000 flying hours.

The anniversary flypast headed to Barrenjoey Heads and then RAAF Base Glenbrook, before returning to Richmond. There was also a reunion of past members.

Group Captain Nicholas Hogan, Officer Commanding No. 84 Wing at RAAF Base Richmond, said the C-130J workforce had supported Defence on missions away from Sydney for much of the past two decades.

"The nature of C-130J work is short-notice, dynamic, and requires the aircrew to be flexible and responsive to complex problems as they complete the mission," Group Captain Hogan said.

"The C-130J has been continuously deployed to the Middle East region since June 2008.

"Closer to home it has been an essential part of Defence responses to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, as well as to search and rescue support.

"Australia has a legacy of flying different Hercules models since December 1958, and the C-130J generation has more than earned its place in history."

In recent years, the C-130J fleet has been upgraded with satellite communications systems, aircraft self-protection systems, and improved battlespace awareness.

"The capability of the C-130J fleet has grown significantly, with future upgrades to include high-bandwidth satellite communications being installed on six aircraft," Group Captain Hogan said.

"We've worked hard to evolve this airframe over the last 20 years, and it will continue to support Defence operations in the future."