Air Combat Command officials on April 19 witnessed rollout of a new rescue tanker at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., facility. The HC-130J, which still must complete flight test before going to ACC later this year, is based on the Marine Corps KC-130J baseline version and includes an enhanced cargo handling system, a boom refueling receptacle, an electro-optical/infrared sensor, and a combat systems operator station on the flight deck. Maj. Gen. Thomas Andersen, ACC’s director of requirements, said the personnel recovery mission “is demanding” and the HC-130J “will enable us to meet the expanding operational tasks that we face today.” Lockheed’s vice president for C-130 programs Ross Reynolds noted, “Yet again, we see the C-130 setting new standards for mission flexibility.” USAF has ordered 21 C-130Js to replace older HC-130s and MC-130s. ACC expects to achieve initial operational capability with the rescue J model in 2012. (Lockheed Martin release)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.