German Precision Takes Off: Lockheed Martin Unveils the German Air Force’s First KC-130J Tanker and Transport Aircraft

The first Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker and transport aircraft for the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) was rolled out of the company’s Marietta production facility in Georgia on 26 January. The new KC-130J with other two C-130J-30 transport aircrafts, which German Air Force curently buying, will become part of a joint Franco-German squadron at Evreux airbase, France. With the German Air Force contributing three KC-130J and three C-130J-30 aircraft, the French Air and Space Force (Armee de l’Air et de l’Espace: AAE) is providing two KC-130Js and two C-130J-30s for a combined fleet of five KC-130Js and five C-130J-30s.

The French Air and Space Force has received all of its aircraft, while German Air Force’s deliveries are due to be complete by the end of 2024. The C-130 air-transport squadron at Base Aérienne 105 (BA 105, Air Base 105) Évreux-Fauville in France’s Normandy region, will have unrestricted exchange of aircraft, aircrews, and maintainers, as well as technical and logistical support based on a common pool of spare parts and a common service support contract. The joint Franco-German air-transport squadron is scheduled to achieve full operating capability in 2024–25.

In 2018, the U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Germany of three (3) C-130J-30 aircraft and three (3) KC-130J aircraft for an estimated cost of $1.40 billion. The German Air Force will use these aircraft to conduct airlift, air refueling, and air drop missions as part of a French-German allied squadron based in Evreux, France. The C-130Js will provide crucial air refueling capability to German and French fighter and light transport aircraft, as well as helicopters. Curently, the German pilots are being trained on the C-130J at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas and at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The Lockheed Martin KC-130 is a family of the extended-range tanker version of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The KC-130J is the latest variant operated by the U.S. Marine Corps, with 48 delivered out of 79 ordered. The newest Hercules, the KC-130J, shares 55 percent of the same airframe as preceding models, but in fact is a greatly improved airplane. It is based on the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules and provides significant increases in operational capability and performance margins over preceding KC-130F/R/T (legacy) aircraft. The KC-130J reduces cost of ownership through system reliability and reduced maintenance man-hours per flight hour.

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