New Rescue Tanker Completes Developmental Testing

The Air Force’s new HC-130J rescue tanker has successfully finished developmental testing, prime contractor Lockheed Martin announced. The aircraft last week accomplished the final test objective when it mated with a KC-135 tanker in flight to receive fuel. Entering the final assembly line in 2009, this HC-130J airframe rolled out of Lockheed’s assembly plant in Marietta, Ga., last April. The Air Force wants to procure up to 37 HC-130Js to replace its 1960s-era HC-130P fleet on a one-for-one basis. The HC-130J air-to-air refueling sortie also accomplished one of the testing points for the new MC-130J special-mission aircraft that the Air Force also is acquiring, according to Lockheed. The rollout of the first MC-130J from Marietta is planned for later this month. Deliveries of the first HC-130Js and MC-130Js will start in August, with initial operational capability slated in 2012 for both aircraft.