I understand that the Spanish Air Force is retiring (or has retired) their C-130 fleet. I guess with the A400Ms coming into service, the Hercs were done. I have not had much interaction with Spanish C-130s but here are a couple of shots to mark their end of service.
In this previous post about the hangars at Moffett Field, I mentioned that I was there to cover an exercise. The MC-130s were a big part of the exercise. They were loading up and launching down to remote landing strips on the California coast. The holds were full of equipment including off road vehicles. Loading these up was a tight fit. While the crews spent time getting everything ready to go, I was reasonably free to wander around the airframe and get some shots.
Here are some that I got that day. These were some of the oldest Combat Shadow (and maybe Hercules) airframes around at the time and I suspect that they have been replaced by now, I think by Combat King J models.
The heat haze was a bit of a problem on this day so I was hoping that they would roll out a bit long to get into usable range. They couldn’t have been more obliging. It turned out to be a US Marine Corps KC-130J. They didn’t exit early for the taxiway even though they could have done so with ease but instead rolled all the way to near me before exiting and taxiing back to the ramp in the other direction. This was very kind of them. I got them close enough in to have little in the way of heat haze and to get a decent look at them.
I was at BFI one day looking to get some other interesting visitors and I had got what I came for. I was just contemplating whether to go home or do something else before returning when I saw something on the approach at the other end of the field. It looked big, smoky and a prop so I thought I should wait a little longer. A look through the long lens told me it was a C-130! It was a Linden Air Cargo airframe, sadly unpainted in their colors which are very nice. I was most glad that I hadn’t been in a hurry to get on my way!
Departure day at RIAT was a bit overcast, much like the majority of the show. The damp atmosphere did have the positive effect of meaning many of the more powerful prop aircraft were pulling vortices from the tips of their propellers. This was most obvious earlier in their take off runs but you could get a pretty good view of it even head on from where I was sitting in the FRIAT stand. Here is one of the Hercs that was beating the air into submission.
Red Flag 16-4 was a bit unusual in that tanker support was not what you normally see. No KC-135s were taking part. The Israeli Air Force had brought some 707s for tanking there jets. The rest of the tankers were KC-130s. An MC-130J showed up although I don’t know whether it was part of the exercise or just there coincidentally. The Spanish Air Force brought their KC-130s to support the Hornets. Seeing a camouflaged Herc is a nice change given how most of them are monotone these days. It doesn’t hurt that, since tankers tend to recover late, they came back as the light was getting very nice.
Red Flag may be well known for the fast jet activity but the jets aren’t the only ones that get to play. The transports also get to have a role. One of the exercises earlier this year included the U.K. RAF. They brought along a C-130 Hercules. I got to shoot it a couple of times. One thing that was clear as the aircraft took off was that the bottom of the fuselage was very dirty. I think it was safe to say that it had been landing on some rough strips somewhere out on the range.
All of the A-10s coming in for Hawgsmoke need some support. There were C-17s and C-5s on the ramp during the exercise. While we were out watching the jets arrive, a C-130J came in as well. It landed and then turned to taxi right back passed us. I don’t know for sure whether it was supporting the A-10s from a unit or it was just a coincidence that it arrived at that time on another mission but I figure that it is a strong chance that is why it was there.
A couple of years ago I was in Tucson for an exercise I was covering for GAR. There was some time when I was shooting the arrival of the A-10s on the base. In between the Hawg movements a few other aircraft came in, most of which were what you might expect. One unusual arrival was a C-130. I was trying to work out what unit it might belong to as it came in because it was a pale color. As it got closer, the markings were clearly those of the Japanese Self Defence Force. This was something I hadn’t seen before.
I wrote about the arrival of the C-27J Spartan in Coast Guard service. This means that the C-130s are going to be heading out. One the same day I saw a Spartan flying, one of the current C-130s took off. It was a nice illustration of what is now and what will be. I have seen the Coast Guard 130s around on a number of occasions but I guess they will soon be gone. Maybe I shall see them fighting fires somewhere.