In June 2006, the Government announced its plan to acquire 17 new tactical lift aircraft to revitalize the Canadian Forces’ current tactical airlift capabilities. The Canadian Forces will welcome its first CC-130J Hercules tactical aircraft into service in June 2010, six months ahead of the original scheduled delivery. The lifeline of deployed forces, tactical airlift is used to transport equipment, troops, and supplies to, within, and from a theatre of operation.
The familiar CC-130 Hercules is a mainstay of the Canadian Forces’ transport fleet. This rugged and versatile aircraft has served the Canadian Forces since the early 1960s. Renewing the tactical airlift fleet is a priority of the Government of Canada, as part of the Canada First Defence Strategy, and its commitment to a modernized and strengthened Canadian Forces, enabling troops to conduct safer and more effective operations at home and abroad.
Acquiring and Sustaining the CC-130J Hercules fleet
Following the announcement by Government to procure new tactical aircraft, a solicitation of interest and qualification was used to ensure a fair, open, and transparent procurement process. The contract to purchase 17 C-130J Hercules aircraft was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corporation, in December 2007, with an approximate value of USD $1.4 billion. As a result of successful negotiations, the Canadian Forces will welcome its first two C-130J Hercules into its fleet beginning in June – six months earlier than originally expected. The remaining aircraft will begin delivery later in 2010 as planned.
In January 2010, the Government of Canada announced that it signed a $723 million contract amendment with Lockheed Martin Corporation for in-service support to maintain the new fleet, for a period ending June 30, 2016. The amendment also includes mechanisms to extend this maintenance support for the full life cycle of the aircraft, ensuring Canada can maintain its tactical airlift capability.
Fleet history – Operations at home and abroad
The CC-130 Hercules are the workhorse of the Canadian Forces’ transport fleet. Different variants of this rugged and versatile aircraft have served the Canadian Forces well since the early 1960s. The current fleet of CC-130s continues to be the Canadian Forces’ primary aircraft for tactical airlift, tactical air-to-air refuelling, and fixed-wing search and rescue. The Canadian Forces own 32 Hercules aircraft: 19 E-models dating from 1964 to 1968 and 13 H-models dating from 1973 to 1992.
The CC-130 Hercules are capable of short takeoffs and landings on unprepared runways, making it an ideal aircraft for responding to situations on almost any terrain and under the most challenging weather conditions. It can also transport troops and equipment in support of humanitarian aid operations conducted by the Canadian Forces’ Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).
In response to the recent earthquake in Haiti, CC-130 Hercules were used in support of Operation HESTIA, the Canadian Forces contribution to Canada’s humanitarian aid effort. CC-130 Hercules carried equipment, humanitarian supplies, and military and civilian personnel into the devastated country. They were also used to transport Canadian citizens back to Canada in the first few weeks following the earthquake.
Not only do the CC-130 Hercules provide support to domestic and humanitarian aid operations, they operate daily in Afghanistan. The CC-130 Hercules have been serving in Southwest Asia since January 2002, when three Hercules deployed to the Persian Gulf with flight crews and ground staff as the Tactical Airlift Detachment.
By the end of Operation APOLLO, Canada’s military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism from October 2001 to October 2003, these aircraft had transported some 6,000 passengers and more than 6.8 million kilograms of freight to destinations in the theatre of operations, including Afghanistan.
Currently on Operation ATHENA, Canada’s participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, the CC-130 Hercules continue to operate with the Tactical Airlift Unit, part of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing and continue to be a mainstay of NATO airlift in Afghanistan.