The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has completed the upgrade of its CC-130J Hercules fleet, which numbers 17 aircraft. The modernized airlifters feature improved navigation, communication and maintenance capabilities.
The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) announced the milestone today, October 18. The 17th and final Hercules to be upgraded was received on October 13.
According to the DND, the modified CC-130Js are ‘better able to fly among large commercial aircraft in heavily congested and controlled airspace and perform much more fuel-efficient long-range flights.’
The upgraded CC-130J is further able to conduct approaches in poor visibility and receive critical mission information from allied ground, air, and naval partners via high-speed, encrypted datalink.
The upgrades were introduced as part of a collaborative effort between between the DND, Lockheed Martin, and the Canadian company Cascade Aerospace, and involved around 100 Canadian employees.
‘With these modifications’, a DND statement noted, ‘the RCAF can continue to count on the CC-130J Hercules to provide exemplary support to operations, such as defending Canada’s sovereignty in the Far North or helping communities facing natural disasters.’
‘The improved capabilities of the CC-130J Hercules will allow Canada to sustain our forces on future operations, including peace support operations and domestic interventions, while continuing our meaningful contributions in supporting allies’, added Harjit S. Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defence.
‘The procurement of the CC-130J is an ongoing success story’, said Col Bruce Cooke, the DND’s Project Manager of the CC-130J procurement. ‘Not only were the first two aircraft delivered significantly ahead of schedule and the remaining 15 on time, but thanks to the professionalism of Lockheed Martin and the Canadian company Cascade Aerospace, the latest upgrade has been implemented in an equally timely fashion.’
The final upgraded aircraft has been re-delivered to the RCAF’s 436 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton, which is commanded by LCol Spencer V. Selhi. ‘As commander of this hardworking and proud squadron, I know these upgrades to the aircraft’s navigation, communication and maintenance capabilities will only serve to make this squadron more effective in all training and operational missions’, said LCol Selhi. ‘In fact, the first international exercise to see this upgrade was Exercise ‘Bullseye’, a Commonwealth Tactical Air Transport Exercise, at the end of September.’
The CC-130J Hercules first entered service at 8 Wing Trenton in 2010. The upgrade program was launched in November 2013, when Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract amendment to modify the fleet to meet new global airspace requirements.