Making its Air Force debut, the first combat ready HC-130J Combat King II touched down on here Nov. 15.
The new plane was welcomed by a formation of 21 Airmen who, upon arrival of the HC-130J, rendered salutes, and a crowd waiting for the induction ceremony for the aircraft. The advanced HC-130J is specifically designed for the use of Combat Search and Rescue missions.
Davis-Monthan was honored to receive the very first combat ready J model, as this marks a significant milestone in the Rescue and Air Force community.
“This aircraft means enhanced survivability for our HH-60s and our guardian angels,” said Col. Jason Hanover, 563rd Rescue Group commander, while addressing the crowd on the implementation and advantages of the HC-130J. “It means enhanced effectiveness and speed when getting to our isolated personnel when providing lifesaving medical care and support. It is a C-130 variant, but the differences make it an entirely different aircraft. I wish we could give it a different number because it is so radically advanced.”
The upgrades present on the HC-130J that make it so advanced include improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasures systems. The aircraft fleet has a fully-integrated inertial navigation and global positioning system, and interior and exterior lighting that are compatible with night vision goggles. It also has forward-looking infrared, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, satellite and data-burst communications, and the ability to receive fuel inflight via a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation.
The HC-130J replaces the HC-130P model that the 79th Rescue Squadron currently uses.
“This aircraft allows us to update our personal rescue force,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Ruud, 923rd AMXS crew chief. “We’ll have better capabilities which will allow us to get our mission done quicker and more effectively.”
With D-M receiving the new HC-130Js, the mission ability of the 79th RQS will improve.
“We’ll be able to deploy anytime, anywhere and provide 24-hour coverage,” Ruud said. “The C-130s we had before were from the 1960s, so we would have problems with them breaking. We won’t have that issue now. We’ll be able to launch the aircraft quicker.”