The Road to the New Rescue Tanker

Air Force officials took delivery of the service’s first new-build HC-130J rescue tanker from Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Ga., early last month, but this platform will not enter operational service for another two years. The aircraft will remain in Marietta undergoing developmental test until October 2011, SSgt Robin Stanchak, spokeswoman for the 23rd Wing at Moody AFB, Ga., told the Daily Report. After that, it will transfer to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for use in operational testing and in training crew members from the base’s 79th Rescue Squadron as the unit prepares for the transition from the HC-130 to the HC-130J, she said. Finally, in December 2012, the Air Force expects to deliver this HC-130J, along with two others, to the 79th RQS. The unit will then begin initial operations with the HC-130Js and be ready for deployments, said Stanchak. The Air Force is acquiring a total of 37 HC-130Js as well as 37 brand new MC-130J special-mission aircraft under an $8.7 billion recapitalization program that runs from Fiscal 2008 through Fiscal 2019. The HC-130Js are replacing Air Combat Command’s HC-130s.