This weekend the Royal Australian Air Force will celebrate fifty years of outstanding achievements by its enduring ‘work horse’ – the C-130 Hercules aircraft. I flew on all variants from the old A model in 1964 through to the J model in the mid 80s and appreciated their capabilities. I spent some time as Unit Emplaning officer of 1RAR in the ODF in Townsville and was forced by appointment to become precisely knowledgeable of their capability to manage the deployment of a Battalion group on Ex Swift Eagle. They have been a great asset to the military and will be for some to come. Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin says;
Various models of Hercules aircraft have been the backbone of many of the Australian Defence Force’s most important operations during the past 50 years. The Hercules have provided combat air lift capability, including tactical transport of troops and cargo as well as special forces insertion, parachuting and air drops. In marking 50 years of C-130 service, we recognise the dedication of the thousands of air crew, ground and support personnel and contractors who have worked hard to fly and maintain the Hercules in Australia and in deployed locations around the world.In recent years, our C-130 Hercules have seen more active duty than any other aircraft in the RAAF.This service has been widely appreciated across the ADF. Today three RAAF Hercules are based in the Middle East, and continue to provide vital air lift support to Australian and Coalition forces. Some of the more memorable achievements include service during the Vietnam War, the emergency response to Cyclone Tracy, the Katherine floods, the Boxing Day tsunami and the Bali bombings. The C-130 fleet ran regular services to Vietnam during that war and most importantly conducted medevacs of ill and wounded service personnel. They were also tasked with refugee relief at the end of the conflict. In 2005, the C-130s delivered humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the Boxing Day tsunami and they brought home the Australians injured in the Bali bombings in 2002. The C-130 Hercules began service with the RAAF in 1958, with the arrival of twelve C-130 A models. The success of this acquisition was followed in 1966 with twelve C-130 E models. Twelve C-130 H models arrived in 1978 to replace the 20 year old A model and the latest version; the C-130 J model arrived to replace the E model in 1999. RAAF currently has a fleet of 24 C-130s, comprising J and H models. While the C-130 has undergone several modifications over the past 50 years, its fuselage shape has largely remained unchanged. The 50th anniversary celebrations include a flypast of Sydney, and a reunion at RAAF Richmond Pictured is a C130J.