Lockheed KC-130 Hercules
The Lockheed KC-130 is a combination of tanker and transport aircraft, basing on the high-wing C-130H “Hercules” transport aircraft. Within the EATC assigned fleet, only the Spanish Air Force runs this tactical aircraft version.
First experimental versions of this tactical tanker (so called “GV-1”) made their first flights already in January 1960 in the US. Initial models for service became the C-130B, modified as KC-130B from their transport role to serve as in-flight refueling tankers. KC-130F followed in 1962, marking the first definitive production step as these aircraft were not rebuild but designed as tankers right from the start.
The first Spanish tankers on basis of the C-130H entered service in spring 1976 – the Spanish Air Force described the aircraft type as TK-10, the international description is KC-130H.
In September 1978, the home base of the Hercules, the 301 Squadron, was reorganized into the Spanish Air Transport Wing 31. The range of tasks of the KC-130H was not only comprising the support of the deployment of flying units and the cooperation with Army and Navy. They have also been employed in numerous humanitarian missions when the Spanish state provided disaster relief at home or in other countries.
The refueling missions are usually conducted within a 500-nautical-mile (930 km) operating radius. For its refueling role the aircraft has two wing-mounted hose and drogue refueling pods. The KC-130 is also equipped with a removable 3.600 gallon (136.26 hectoliter) stainless steel fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment providing additional fuel when required. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue refueling pods each transfer up to 300 gallons per minute (1135.5 liters per minute) to two aircraft simultaneously allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations (a typical tanker formation of four aircraft in less than 30 minutes).
In the late 90´s, a modernization program aim to actualize and upgrade the fleet plus extending the service life of the aircraft was conducted. Under this program, several systems of the planes were upgraded including the avionics and navigational system, the radio system, self-protection suite, the fuel system and the system of the in-flight refueling pods as well as the digital autopilot.